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Abu Dhabi Builds Strategic Gulf Pipeline Bypassing the Strait of Hormuz (UPI)
The United Arab Emirates has completed a pipeline from its main oil fields in Abu Dhabi to Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman, thus bypassing the chokepoint Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil export route highly vulnerable to closure by Iran.
The 230-mile pipeline, and the opening of a new naval base in Fujairah on Oct. 20, is seen as part of a strategic effort by the Gulf Arab states to ensure global oil supplies if hostilities erupt with Iran.
Court Sentences 16 Over Murder of French Jew (AP-New York Times)
A French appeals court on Friday upheld the convictions of 16 people for their roles in the 2006 kidnapping, torture and murder of Ilan Halimi, a young French Jew, handing down sentences of up to 18 years in prison.
The ringleader, Youssouf Fofana, chose not to appeal his conviction and life sentence.
A nine-year sentence was upheld against the young woman who had taken part in luring Halimi into the gang's custody.
12 Arrested in UK Terrorism Plot (AP-Washington Post)
British anti-terrorism police said Monday they arrested 12 men in London, Stoke-on-Trent and Cardiff following several weeks of surveillance amid fears of a holiday season terrorism plot.
Shiites, Sunnis Clash in Saudi Arabia (AP)
The Shiite news website Rasid reported that hundreds of Sunni hard-liners attacked minority Shiite Muslims commemorating the Ashoura day of mourning in the Saudi city of Medina on Thursday, with residents of the Asbaa neighborhood using poles and stones in their assault against Shiites in the nearby Qabaa district.
In recent years, attacks by Sunni extremists have marred Ashoura commemorations in Iraq, Pakistan and other places of strife.
Shiites are 10% of predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia, and the hard-line Wahhabi school of Islam, the state religion in Saudi Arabia, considers Shiites infidels.
We Can't Rely on Europe, Israel Ambassador Warns - Bernard Josephs (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
At a meeting at London's New West End Synagogue, Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor warned: "When push comes to shove, no one in Israel really thinks that Europe will come to its aid."
He lambasted politicians who felt they were taking a sufficiently principled stand by simply stating that Israel had "a right to exist."
If he had found it necessary to state that Britain has a right to exist, "people would wonder what I had been drinking?" he declared.
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News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- WikiLeaks: Fatah Asked Israel to Attack Hamas
A U.S. cable leaked on Monday said Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas' forces worked closely together against Hamas as it took over Gaza in 2007. The June 13, 2007, cable quoted Yuval Diskin, the head of the Israel Security Agency, as saying the PA security apparatus shares with Israel "almost all the intelligence that it collects." The cable was sent from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv as Hamas forces were routing Abbas' security forces to take over Gaza.
Diskin called Abbas' forces "desperate, disorganized, and demoralized."
"They ask us to attack Hamas. This is a new development. We have never seen this before. They are desperate." (Reuters)
- Israel Defends Energy Exploration Deal with Cyprus - Fulya Ozerkan
Israel has defended a deal it made with Cyprus to delineate an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, telling Turkey it has no reason to get involved in the agreement.
"This agreement is an issue between Israel and Cyprus and it in no way affects a third country," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP. Cyprus has already concluded similar agreements with Egypt and Lebanon. (Hurriyet-Turkey)
- Seattle Metro's "Israeli War Crimes" Bus Ad Draws Complaints - Keith Ervin
An advertisement alleging "Israeli war crimes" slated to appear on Seattle Metro Transit buses has ignited a political firestorm.
Metro spokeswoman Linda Thielke said the transit agency received 600 e-mails as well as a large number of phone calls protesting the ad.
Richard Fruchter, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, said Metro shouldn't have accepted the ad.
"We feel that this violates Metro's own policy that running ads shouldn't insult specific groups," he said. "This is an ad that's designed to insult Israelis and the 50,000 members of the Jewish community, many of whom support Israel." Fruchter said the Jewish Federation was "particularly sensitized" by Naveed Haq's fatal shooting of one woman and wounding of five others at the organization's building in Seattle in 2006. (Seattle Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Palestinian Rocket Explodes Near Kibbutz Kindergarten - Shmulik Hadad
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at Israel that exploded near a kibbutz kindergarten on Tuesday morning just as parents were arriving with their children.
A 14-year-old-girl was injured by glass fragments inside her home. A young boy and a gas-truck driver suffered from shock.
See also IDF: Hamas Escalating Attacks Against Israel - Anshel Pfeffer
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi ordered the air force to strike eight Hamas targets in Gaza overnight Tuesday, in light of increased offensives against Israeli troops and civilians along the border over the last two weeks. Some 30 mortar shells and 10 Kassam rockets have been fired during that time. Although Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Resistance Committee have been behind the majority of the recent rocket attacks and attempts to strike Israeli army patrols, the IDF believes that these militants have been carrying out orders from Hamas.
- Jerusalem Scrambles as European States Move to Upgrade Ties with Palestinians - Barak Ravid
After reports that the PA is trying to persuade EU states to upgrade its diplomatic status, the Israel Foreign Ministry on Monday ordered Israeli envoys abroad to begin "urgent" diplomatic activity. The aim is to thwart Palestinian efforts at drafting a UN resolution that would recognize a unilateral declaration of statehood and put international pressure on Israel to halt settlement construction.
Israeli officials expect Ecuador to shortly announce it is joining Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia in recognizing a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called his counterparts in Mexico and Chile to ask them not to make a similar move. He also asked senior officials in the Obama Administration to support Israel's stance in Central and South America.
In Europe, the issue involves upgrading the PA's diplomatic status. Spain and France have already taken this step, and the Israeli assessment is that Britain, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Denmark, Malta, Luxembourg, and Austria are considering a similar move.
- Poll: Level of Freedom Deteriorating in Both West Bank and Gaza
A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research on Dec. 16-18 found:
Only 27% say people in the West Bank can criticize the Palestinian Authority without fear, down from 56% in 2007. Only 19% say people in Gaza can criticize the Hamas government without fear, down from 52% in 2007.
The percentage of Gazans who say they seek emigration to other countries rose from 37% three months ago to 45% today, while in the West Bank, the percentage remained unchanged at 24%.
(Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
- Clinton Should Press the Arab Side - Saul Singer
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Dec. 10 speech at the Saban Center was a classic example of the historic and failed U.S. approach. Almost every sentence was crafted to convey absolute evenhandedness. Every ounce of praise or pressure on one side was carefully balanced by an equal weight on the other.
Yet the reality is that the conflict is asymmetrical: Israelis are much more ready for the two-state solution than is the Arab world. Almost no Palestinian leader can openly admit the most basic tenets underlying a two-state solution: that there is a Jewish people; that Jewish temples stood under independent Jewish sovereignty for centuries; and that Jewish moral, legal, and historic rights to sovereignty are not inferior to those of Palestinians.
If tomorrow a peace agreement were announced in the Arab world there would be much more mourning than dancing. For Arabs, the two-state solution represents the abandonment of a century-old dream: the eviction of the Jews from Palestine. A Jewish state of any size would be a defeat, not a victory.
See also The Clinton Speech: A Fundamental Turning Point? - Zaki Shalom (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
- More False Claims by Human Rights Watch Against Israel
Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a 166-page report entitled "Separate and Unequal," accusing Israel of discriminating against Palestinians in the West Bank. The majority of the report is based on claims of politicized advocacy groups that HRW did not independently verify. Significant portions of HRW's indictment are based on a tendentious version of human rights norms and international law. The report is another step in HRW's support for the BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) effort and contributes to the global campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel. (NGO Monitor)
- What Is the Difference Between Direct, Indirect and Parallel Talks? - Khaled Abu Toameh
Americans need to listen to what the Palestinians are saying not only in English, but also in Arabic. And in Arabic, the message coming from Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah remains no to resumption of peace talks unconditionally, no to accepting Israel as a Jewish state, no to any solution that does not include all the territories captured by Israel in 1967. The U.S. obviously does not take Abbas seriously. Nor are the Americans ready to accept the fact that Abbas is a weak and discredited leader who will never be able to sell any peace agreement to a majority of Arabs and Palestinians. (Hudson Institute-New York)
The Fallacy of the "1967 Borders" - No Such Borders Ever Existed - Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The Palestinian leadership is fixated on attempting to press foreign governments and the UN to recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state within the "1967 borders." Indeed, this campaign appeared to have some initial successes in December 2010 when both Argentina and Brazil decided to recognize a Palestinian state within what they described as the "1967 borders."
- But such borders do not exist and have no basis in history, law, or fact. The only line that ever existed was the 1949 armistice demarcation line, based on the ceasefire lines of the Israeli and Arab armies pending agreement on permanent peace. The 1949 armistice agreements specifically stated that such lines have no political or legal significance and do not prejudice future negotiations on boundaries.
- UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 acknowledged the need for negotiation of secure and recognized boundaries. Prominent jurists and UN delegates, including from Brazil and Jordan, acknowledged that the previous lines cannot be considered as international boundaries.
- The series of agreements between the PLO and Israel (1993-1999) reaffirm the intention and commitment of the parties to negotiate permanent borders. During all phases of negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians, there was never any determination as to a border based on the 1967 lines.
- The PLO leadership solemnly undertook that all issues of permanent status would be resolved only through negotiations between the parties. The 2003 "Road Map" further reiterated the need for negotiations on final borders.
Alan Baker is former Legal Adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador of Israel to Canada.
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