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Hamas Commander: Israel Will Cease to Exist - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
Muhammad Deif, the commander of Hamas' military wing, said in a statement issued Saturday that the Palestinians will not give up their struggle until Israel ceases to exist.
"You will disappear and we will have Palestine," Deif said in a direct message to Israel.
European Terror Attack Feared as Al-Qaeda Fighters Disappear from Base in Lebanon - Mitchell Prothero (Observer-UK)
Intelligence services throughout the Middle East and Europe are scrambling to track down more than two dozen fighters linked to al-Qaeda who have recently left their base in southern Lebanon.
The men are thought to have gone to Europe by way of Syria, and Turkey, and multiple intelligence sources warn that the group appears to be operational and could be planning attacks in Europe.
Turkish Ruling Party Faces Election Challenge - Soner Cagaptay (Jerusalem Post)
Can the Republican People's Party (CHP), Turkey's main opposition movement and the inheritor of Kemal Ataturk's legacy of a Western and secular country, challenge the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the upcoming June 2011 elections?
In May, the CHP elected a new charismatic leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who recently won enough support to form a new party assembly composed of fresh new faces.
For the first time since 2002, the AKP faces a real challenge from a renewed opposition that is forward-looking, with a vision to create a new liberal and pro-Western Turkey.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
When Iranian Soldiers Kill Turkish Civilians - Mehmet Y. Yilmaz (Hurriyet [Turkish]-Turkey)
Iran opened fire on Turkish villagers who crossed the border while following their livestock that ran away. One dead, one injured and one missing. The number of Turkish Republic citizens murdered by Iranian soldiers for this reason is 20.
The government of the Turkish Republic is quiet about this.
They probably do not want to upset Ahmadinejad.
Must bullets come from Israel for Turkish corpses to become valuable?
PA Teachers Were "the Main Agitators for the Intifada," Says PA TV - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
A PA TV host explained on Dec. 21, 2010: "The teachers were the main agitators for the Intifada, for [Palestinian] nationalism and for awareness [of Palestinian identity]. Therefore it is our duty to honor them more."
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- Israel Says It Will Not Apologize to Turkey over Flotilla Incident
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that his country will not apologize to Turkey over the deaths of nine Turkish activists aboard an aid flotilla headed for Gaza in May.
"The one who needs to apologize is the Turkish government for supporting terror regarding the IHH (a Turkish charity tied to the flotilla), Hamas and Hizbullah," he said. "There will be no apology, and if there is one, we are expecting it from Ankara and not vice versa." Israel has maintained that its troops used force only after they were attacked by those on board one boat.
See also Thousands Greet Turkish Protest Ship; Chant "Death to Israel"
Thousands of pro-Palestinian activists greeted the Gaza flotilla ship Mavi Marmara as it returned to Istanbul Sunday after undergoing repairs at a Mediterranean port. The crowds waved Palestinian and Turkish flags and chanted "Allah is great!"
One of the event organizers called for "death to Israel," saying they will fight till their last breath until they take over Jerusalem. (Ynet News)
See also IHH to Host Welcome Party for Marmara - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
- Israel to Boycott UN Racism Meeting
Israel won't participate in the 10th anniversary commemoration of a UN conference on racism that singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism to racism.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the conference had "anti-Semitic undertones and displays of hatred for Israel and the Jewish world."
The U.S. and Israel walked out of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Abbas: No Room for Israelis in Palestinian State - Khaled Abu Toameh
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Saturday that when a Palestinian state is established, it would have no Israelis in it.
"We have frankly said, and always will say, if there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won't agree to the presence of one Israeli in it," Abbas said in Ramallah. He was commenting on reports that the PA leadership might agree to the presence of the IDF in the West Bank after the establishment of a Palestinian state.
- IDF Kills Two Palestinian Terrorists on Gaza Border - Hanan Greenberg
Two Gaza terrorists were killed by Israeli soldiers early Sunday while attempting to plant explosive devices along the security fence. Army officials said that at around 2 a.m. three terrorists were spotted approaching the security fence near the Sufa crossing.
- Jordan Slouching Toward Tehran - Caroline B. Glick
Two weeks ago, Jordan, the West's most stable and loyal ally in the Arab world, began slouching toward Iran.
On Dec. 12, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei met with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman and extended a formal invitation from Ahmadinejad for him to pay a state visit to Iran. Abdullah accepted. Abdullah was one of the first world leaders to sound the alarm on Iran. In 2004 Abdullah warned of a "Shiite crescent" extending from Iran to Iraq, through Syria to Lebanon.
In a WikiLeaks leaked cable from April 2009, U.S. Ambassador to Jordan R. Stephen Beecroft wrote, "Jordan's leaders are careful not to be seen as dictating toward the U.S., but their comments betray a powerful undercurrent of doubt that the United States knows how to deal effectively with Iran."
Beecroft reported a clear warning from Abdullah, who cautioned that if the Arabs believe that the U.S. was appeasing Iran at their expense, "that engagement will set off a stampede of Arab states looking to get ahead of the curve and reach their own separate peace with Tehran." (Jerusalem Post)
- Showdown Coming Between Iran's Workers and the Mullahs - Amir Taheri
The stage is being set for a showdown between Iran's workers and the Khomeinist establishment. In Qazvin, a major industrial center, striking workers have shut pharmaceutical, textile and ceramic factories. In Golestan, thousands of coal miners are on strike. In the port cities of Bandar Abbas, Bushehr and Khorramshahr, striking truck drivers have provoked massive congestion in unloading imports. A nationwide strike by workers and managers of the state-owned Wheat Agency may threaten the country with a bread shortage. Workers' action is also reported from the Haft-Tapeh sugar-cane industry, the steel-pipe company in Ahvaz, and the petrochemical complex in Mahshahr.
(New York Post)
- U.S.-Israel Relations after the American Midterm Elections - Zalman Shoval
Even the Bush-Baker Administration never declared the settlements to be illegal. As construction in the territories and Jerusalem continued, the U.S. and Israel agreed that certain amounts were to be deducted from U.S. loan guarantees - an example of how things can be worked out in spite of the basic position of the U.S.
Israel does not want to see a weakened American presidency, which means a weakened America, especially in the Middle East where the only possible alternative to a weakened America is a strengthened Iran.
The Palestinians now want the UN Security Council to adopt a new resolution which will supersede Resolution 242. It will not mention secure borders or that Israel is not required to withdraw from all the territories. If the proposal passes, this would create a new reality and put an end to the peace process, which depends on the agreed formula of 242. If this is done away with, neither peace nor any sort of interim solution is likely. The writer served twice as Israel's Ambassador to the U.S.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The Spanish Ham Lawsuit - Soeren Kern
A high school teacher in southern Spain is being sued for child abuse by the parents of a Muslim student who claims that the teacher "defamed Islam" by talking about Spanish ham in class. Jose Reyes Fernandez, a geography teacher, was giving a lecture about the different types of climates in Spain and mentioned that the climate in Andalusia offers the perfect temperature conditions for curing Spanish ham, a world-famous delicacy.
At this point, a Muslim student interrupted Reyes and argued that any talk of pork products is offensive to his religion. The student informed his parents, who then filed a lawsuit accusing Reyes of "abuse with xenophobic motivations." Spain's Muslim community now numbers 1.5 million (compared to only 100,000 in 1990). (Hudson Institute-New York)
Ankara's Clear Signals - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
See also The Price of an Apology - Dalia Itzik (Jerusalem Post)
Ankara will accept nothing short of a public apology and full financial compensation for the Mavi Marmara raid as a condition for improving diplomatic relations with Jerusalem, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said over the weekend.
- If Turkey truly wished to resolve the ongoing tension between the two countries, it could do so in an atmosphere of mutual respect, sensitivity and trust. Instead, Ankara has insisted that Israel issue a humiliating apology and provide compensation in a way that might expose IDF soldiers to international legal action.
- Tellingly, there has been no Turkish recognition of the brutal violence perpetrated by so-called "peace activists" on board the Gaza-bound ship.
The resolution demanded by Turkey does not conform to the kind of terms demanded by friendly nations. And for all of Israel's genuine desire to heal relations with what was hitherto a vital regional ally, meeting those terms would be self-defeating.
- The Turkish government's quasi-sponsorship of the Gaza flotilla merely marks an unfortunate confirmation of Ankara's policy of distancing from Israel while fostering closer ties with Iran and Syria. Sadly, Turkey's entire approach to the affair bespeaks anything but goodwill.
The failure to resolve diplomatic tensions has everything to do with the clear and grim signals emanating from Ankara.
The flotilla incident came after a long, consistent decline in our relations - a decline that was lead by Ankara.
Turkey's decision to pull away from its regional ally was deliberate and strategic.
- Acknowledging the tragedy in which nine people met their deaths and paying reparations to their families is one thing.
Apologizing for killing them is something else entirely.
- The alliance of mutual interests on which relations were based for the past several decades started to unravel not because of Israel, but first and foremost because of the change of direction by the Turkish leadership.
The writer, a former speaker of the Knesset, is chairwoman of the Kadima Knesset faction.
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