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October 18, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Warns of New Gaza War If Hamas Abducts Soldier - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
    In the wake of assessments that Hamas may be planning to attempt to capture more IDF soldiers, a senior General Staff officer warned on Sunday that Israel's response to any kidnapping would be no less severe than its 2009 military operation in Gaza.
    The officer said, "it must be made clear to them that a kidnapping will come at a very high cost....The cost will have to be of the magnitude of Operation Cast Lead."

Saudis Warn of New Terror Threat in Europe - Richard Spencer (Telegraph-UK)
    Saudi intelligence services have warned of a new terror threat from al-Qaeda against Europe, particularly in France, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said Saturday.

IDF Thwarts Rocket Launch Attempt by Gaza Terrorist Squad (Israel Defense Forces)
    On Sunday the Israel Air Force hit a squad of terror operatives who were preparing to fire rockets from Gaza into Israel.
    More than 165 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli territory since the beginning of 2010.

Hizbullah Chief "Deceived" Iran Leader with Gun Gift (AFP)
    Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah deceived Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by giving him a gun he claimed was taken from an Israeli soldier in the 2006 war, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot said Sunday.
    The paper quoted a military spokesperson as saying the weapon was "most likely" a FNFAL 7.62 rifle that went out of use in 1974, meaning it could not have been taken from soldiers during the more recent fighting in Lebanon.

More Israeli Wings Over Afghanistan (Strategy Page)
    Polish troops in Afghanistan have received four Israeli Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (TUAV). The TUAV is used by fifteen nations, and is one of several Israeli UAV models used by NATO troops in Afghanistan.
    American manufacturers cannot keep up with the demand and must give priority to orders for U.S. forces. So Israel, which taught the U.S. how to do UAVs right, is the logical backup supplier.
    Poland sought the TUAV for Afghanistan because of the need for greater endurance and durability than provided by the American Shadow 200 UAV, as well as the ability to operate farther from the operator.

500 Arabs Enrolled in Israeli West Bank University - Yair Altman (Ynet News)
    Some 11,500 students, among them 500 Arab and Druze Israelis, began the academic year Sunday at the Ariel University Center of Samaria in the West Bank.
    Joana Moussa, 20, a behavioral sciences student from Abu Snan, an Arab village in the Galilee, said, "I am very pleased because the professors give us personal attention and there is no racism here. Perhaps in other places people would have commented on my name or ethnicity, but here I'm accepted for who I am."

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  • U.S. Deal with European Oil Firms Hobbles Iran Air - Thomas Erdbrink
    A recent agreement between four of Europe's largest oil companies and the U.S. aimed at further isolating Iran has left Iran Air, the Islamic republic's national carrier, unable to refuel its planes in most of Europe. Under the agreement, announced in Washington on Sept. 30, Total of France, Statoil of Norway, Eni of Italy, and Royal Dutch Shell of Britain and the Netherlands pledged to end their investments in Iran and avoid new activity in the country's energy sector.
        As a result of the canceled jet fuel contracts, all Iran Air planes are now forced to make lengthy fuel stops in Germany or Austria, where Total of France and OMV of Austria are still providing jet fuel until their contracts run out, possibly as soon as next month. (Washington Post)
  • U.S.: Chinese Businesses and Banks Are Bypassing UN Sanctions Against Iran - John Pomfret
    The Obama administration has concluded that Chinese firms are helping Iran to improve its missile technology and develop nuclear weapons, and has asked China to stop such activity. During a visit to Beijing last month, a delegation led by Robert J. Einhorn, the State Department's special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, handed a "significant list" of companies and banks to their Chinese counterparts that the administration thinks are violating UN sanctions. "China now is the only country with a major oil and gas industry that's prepared to deal with Iran," a senior U.S. official said.
        The official credited China with working hard to establish the bureaucratic structures and laws to control the export of sensitive technologies, but he said China so far has not devoted resources to crack down on violators. (Washington Post)
  • Israeli Envoy Says Only Peace Can Halt Settlements - Tim Witcher
    Israel's UN ambassador Meron Reuben said in an interview that people "definitely understand the fact that settlements are not a burden on the peace process and not something that will stop the peace process." "The other side is only looking for pretexts to put obstacles in the road, because they were never an obstacle in the road" in the past. "They were not an obstacle when we dealt with the Palestinians year-in and year-out since 1993." "The only way to stop settlements is to come to an agreement....If the Palestinians set up a Palestinian state in a demarcated area, then I presume the settlements in that area would definitely stop."  (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA May Ask UN to Recognize State within '67 Borders - Khaled Abu Toameh and Tovah Lazaroff
    The Palestinian Authority announced on Saturday that it was studying the possibility of asking the UN General Assembly and Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. In response, an Israeli government official said that "there is no substitute for direct talks" between the parties and signing an agreement on a final-status solution. The Palestinians often make threats to avoid direct talks with Israel, he said. "We see this as a way to apply pressure to the international community." The official speculated that the PA is looking to avoid negotiations because in its current political situation, it cannot show the flexibility that is needed for direct negotiations. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Does the PA Fulfill the Criteria for an Independent State? - Dan Izenberg
    According to the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, a state must possess a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and a capacity to enter into relationships with other states. There is nothing in international law to prevent the Palestinian Authority from unilaterally declaring itself an independent state. The question is whether other states will recognize it as such.
        Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN and current head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, says that states will, at least in theory, have difficulty recognizing a Palestinian state because it does not meet key criteria of the convention. For example, the Palestinians themselves are in disagreement over what the territory of Palestine should be. Secondly, the PA does not effectively govern many of the Palestinian parts of the West Bank because, according to the Oslo Accords, it shares many responsibilities with Israel. Furthermore, it has no control over Gaza. Another problem is that, according to the Oslo Accords, an international agreement that is still binding, the PA is prohibited from conducting its own foreign policy. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Thousands of Planned Housing Units in Jerusalem, West Bank on Hold - Ofer Petersburg
    Despite the end of the West Bank building moratorium, the construction of thousands of planned homes are frozen in practice, Yediot Ahronot reported Monday. Recently Prime Minister Netanyahu informed the U.S. in advance of plans for 240 homes in east Jerusalem, thereby ensuring a minor American response. However, he apparently gave up plans for another 600 apartments in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem after the U.S. made it clear that this would put an immediate end to peace talks with the Palestinians. "This is a disaster for Jerusalem," a real estate source said. "The freeze of the past year will create an immense shortage of apartments within a year or two, and dramatic price hikes."  (Ynet News)
        See also Ministers: "All Governments Built in Jerusalem's Jewish Neighborhoods" - Attila Somfalvi
    Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias said Saturday evening that "all governments built in Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods... including the previous government which negotiated with Abu Mazen (Abbas)." "It's clear to everyone that the places in Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods will remain, under any future agreement, in Israel's hands. The Palestinians know it too. We must not get the Palestinians and the world used to having Jerusalem under a freeze, even in a passive acceptance. This is Israel's capital and a matter of consensus to the Israeli public."  (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Heavy Handed U.S. Intervention Has Stalled the Arab-Israeli Peace Process - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Why did the Palestinians terminate the Arab-Israeli peace talks? The justification cited was the Israeli refusal to extend the moratorium they had put on construction in the settlements. It is a phantom excuse, the product of heavy-handed U.S. intervention. Both the Israelis and Palestinians have negotiated for almost 20 years without settlement construction becoming a fundamental impediment. A peace agreement was achieved with Egypt without prohibiting settlements. The Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords without a moratorium on settlements and even acknowledged that Israel would be building on the West Bank. All of the Israeli construction put together doesn't even cover 2% of the West Bank.
        When Obama spoke repeatedly for a construction freeze in the West Bank as a public condition for the renewal of talks, it turned the settlement freeze from a dignified wish into a threshold demand that needed to be met in full. It also set a bar that made it impossible for the Palestinians to compromise. Abbas cannot be less Palestinian than the U.S. president. Why did the U.S. tolerate Abbas' spending the first nine months of the settlement construction freeze equivocating? Then the president publicly demanded an extension ahead of the 10 months, thereby rewarding the Palestinian Liberation Organization for its delay. (U.S. News)
  • Israel's Demand for Recognition as Jewish State Has Changed the Balance of Forces - Avi Beker
    According to a recent American Jewish Committee survey, 95% of American Jews felt the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state in a final status agreement is justified. Netanyahu's demand that Israel be recognized as the Jewish state was a strategic one, which has exerted crucial influence on the balance of mutual, Israel-Arab demands, as well as on the forces in Washington that would pressure Israel.
        The reversal produced by Netanyahu's move has clear implications for the agenda of future talks; and the U.S. government clearly understands that exclusive focus on the question of settlements and the construction freeze will not succeed. As far as American Jews are concerned, the demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state is not an attempt to hamstring the peace talks; instead, it is a legitimate core demand, germane to the resolution of the conflict. The writer served as Secretary-General of the World Jewish Congress. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Why Israel Needs the Bomb: The Conventional Dimension - Mark Helprin (Wall Street Journal)

    • Sixty-five years after Germany's campaign to exterminate the Jews, of the many countries in the world Israel is the only one repeatedly subjected to calls for its extinction. Last week, the Iranian president traveled 1,000 miles from Tehran to stand on Israel's border and threaten annihilation. One can only imagine the hysteria if Israel's prime minister were to go to the Iranian border and do the same.
    • In the 1948 War of Independence Israel had 30,000 casualties, including 6,000 dead, which given its population was proportionally as if today 2.6 million Americans were killed. In the 1967 War, in just six days of battle that created the legend of its invincibility, the proportional figure is 118,000 - 20 times the number of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
    • In 1973, having crossed the Suez Canal, downed a significant portion of the Israeli Air Force, and penetrated deep into the Sinai, the Egyptian army found itself with virtually nothing between it and Israel's heartland. But knowing that had they continued, their concentrations of armor would have been vulnerable to tactical nuclear weapons, that if Israel's existence hung in the balance so would Cairo's and Alexandria's, and that the whole of Egypt could drown in the flood of a breached Aswan Dam, they went no farther.
    • Israel's potential antagonists are closing the gap in numbers and quality, and the Israeli Air Force does not offer the same margin of safety that it once did. The steadily improving professionalism of the Arab air forces, their first-rate American and European equipment, their surface-to-air-missile shield, and most importantly their mass, are potentially a mortal threat.
    • The military strategy of Israel's enemies is now to alter the conventional balance while either equipping themselves with nuclear weapons or denying them to Israel, or both. Israel's adversaries have made their intentions clear, and as their mass and wealth are applied to their militaries over time, Israel's last line of defense in a continual state of siege is the nuclear arsenal devoted solely to preserving its existence.

      The writer is a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute.

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