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Noble Energy Confirms Israel's Largest Natural Gas Discovery - Matt Day (Wall Street Journal)
Noble Energy Inc. confirmed estimates that its offshore Leviathan gas reserve contains about 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, making it Israel's largest energy discovery ever.
The discovery is thought to be large enough to meet Israel's gas needs for 100 years and could transform the country into an energy exporter, potentially lessening Europe's dependence on Russian supplies of natural gas.
The field is located in 5,400 feet of water about 80 miles from the Israeli city of Haifa.
PA Detains Journalist for Reporting on Tensions within Fatah Party - Harriet Sherwood (Guardian-UK)
George Canawati of Radio Bethlehem, an independent West Bank journalist detained for five days by Palestinian security forces after broadcasting a news item relating to frictions within the ruling Fatah party, has questioned the extent to which freedom of speech is permitted by the Palestinian Authority.
"Our prime minister [Salam Fayyad] is always preaching that the sky's the limit for freedom for journalists. From what happened to me, my experience, that is a false slogan," he said.
Spain Goes on Mosque-Building Spree - Soeren Kern (Hudson Institute New York)
The city of Barcelona has agreed to build an official mega-mosque with a capacity for thousands of Muslim worshipers. The new structure would rival the massive Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, currently the biggest mosque in Spain.
There are now 13 mega-mosques in Spain, and more than 1,000 smaller mosques and prayer centers.
Israeli Population: 7,695,000 - Moti Bassok (Ha'aretz)
At the end of 2010 there were 7,695,000 people residing in Israel, according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics.
5,802,000 (75.4%) are Jewish, 1,573,000 (20.4%) are Arab, and 320,000 (4.2%) are of other ethnicity.
London University Apologizes for Map with No Israel - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
The London School of Economics (LSE) apologized last Thursday for using a map of the Middle East that did not include Israel in its alumni magazine.
A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy said,
"We are grateful to LSE for placing Israel back onto their map of the Middle East....We look forward to them acting equally swiftly against those who create an atmosphere of intimidation and fear on campus, to the extent that Jewish students feel scared to study in the LSE."
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
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- U.S. Fears Faster Iran Nuclear Arms Progress - Daniel Dombey
U.S. officials are worried Iran could deploy a new generation of centrifuges that would shorten the time needed to enrich uranium and reach nuclear weapon status.
Such devices are three times faster than the centrifuges Iran relies on now.
"If they were to deploy large numbers of these second-generation machines, then it could dramatically reduce dash time (the time needed to develop a nuclear weapon)," said an administration official.
The U.S. would look at the next quarterly report of the UN nuclear watchdog to see if Iran was making progress with the new centrifuges, he said. (Financial Times-UK)
- Five Arrested in Plot to Attack Danish Newspaper - J. David Goodman
Five men arrested on Wednesday were about to mount a "Mumbai style" attack on the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten before New Year's Day, the head of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service said. The paper ignited Muslim fury around the world by publishing satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005. Lars Barfoed, the Danish justice minister, called the plot "the most serious terror attempt in Denmark." Those arrested came from Iraq, Tunisia, and Lebanon. A search of the apartment where three were staying in Herlev, Denmark, uncovered at least one machine gun with a silencer and live ammunition.
(New York Times)
- Obama Names Ambassador to Syria - Perry Bacon Jr. and Karen DeYoung
President Obama on Wednesday appointed Robert Ford, a career diplomat, as the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005, using a recess appointment to bypass opposition from Senate Republicans. Ford's nomination was held up by a group of senators who complained that the administration had failed to articulate a viable policy toward the Syrian government, which has been charged with supporting Hizbullah militants and other anti-Israel groups.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- U.S. Against Palestinian Anti-Settlement Resolution in Security Council - Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh
The U.S. is against efforts to bring the settlement issue to the UN Security Council, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday, after PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians intended to ask the Security Council to condemn the settlements as "illegal."
"We have consistently opposed taking these kinds of issues to the UN Security Council," Toner said, though he declined to specify whether the U.S. would veto such a resolution should it be voted on.
Toner emphasized that "final-status issues can only be resolved" through direct negotiations, though he labeled continued construction as "corrosive to our peace efforts." Erekat, meanwhile, denied reports that the Palestinians were planning to ask the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state early next year. (Jerusalem Post)
- Turkish Workers in Israel Protest Turkey's Refusal to Extend Contract - Emrah Ulker
A group of Turkish construction workers employed in Israel staged a protest in front of the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, saying they are about to lose their jobs because of the Turkish government's refusal to extend a business contract.
About 800 workers employed by Turkish construction company Yilmazlar Insaat will lose their jobs because Turkey refuses to extend an agreement under which they have been guaranteed employment in Israel since 2003.
Turkey and Israel signed an agreement in 2002 for Israel's assistance in the modernization of 170 Turkish tanks. Israel also undertook to employ 800 Turkish workers as part of the deal. (Today's Zaman-Turkey)
- Israel's Economy Expands by 4.5 Percent in 2010 - Moti Bassok
Israel's economy expanded by 4.5% in 2010, according to preliminary estimates, compared with 0.9% in 2009 and 4.2% in 2008. (Ha'aretz)
- Is Obama's Muslim Outreach Working? - Joshua Muravchik
For two years, President Obama has labored to improve America's standing in the eyes of the Muslim world. Mr. Obama is much better liked than his predecessor, which has yielded more favorable ratings for the U.S. in general.
This is worth noting because America's popularity affects public approval of terrorism. The amount of terrorism is influenced by whether terrorists are seen as heroes or villains.
In a new poll from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project, the good news is that the proportion of pro-terror opinion continues to decline. The bad news is that the minority holding such views remains considerable.
The writer is a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Hizbullah Fears Attacks from Lebanese Sunnis - Nicholas Blanford
With Sunni-Shi'ite tensions on the rise in Lebanon, Hizbullah has been seeking allies within the small but potentially dangerous Salafist community - a sect that generally does not even recognize the Shi'ite branch of Islam.
Many Lebanese fear that an indictment of Hizbullah personnel for the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri could lead to sectarian clashes between rival Sunni and Shi'ite factions.
Sheik Dai al-Islam Shahhal, the most prominent Salafist leader in Lebanon, told TIME in his office in Tripoli, "Hizbullah is threatening to change the face of the country, and this is a bullying act and arrogant....Hizballah sees the Sunnis as an obstacle to executing its program, which is to take over politically in Lebanon and to work with Iran." (TIME)
- Britain Leads in Israeli Denial Efforts - Martin Bright
An Israeli academic who spent five years in London studying the "red-green alliance" between the hard left and international Islamist groups has produced a comprehensive survey of the anti-Israel movement in the UK.
In a report for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on the "delegitimization" movement, published this month, Ehud Rosen has concluded that the boycott campaign against Israel and attempts to arrest Israeli politicians for war crimes are evidence that "Britain has become the main leader of an international effort to deny Israel's right to exist in its current form."
The study details how a senior group of activists from various branches of the Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East and North Africa allied with a younger generation of Islamists to form a powerful hub of activity centred on the Muslim Association of Britain.
The findings of the report echo those of the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank which concluded in a report earlier this month that London had become a "Mecca of delegitimization." (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
See also Mapping the Organizational Sources of the Global Delegitimization Campaign against Israel in the UK - Ehud Rosen (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
See also Building a Political Firewall against
the Assault on Israel's Legitimacy:
London as a Case Study (Reut Institute)
Everyone Does Not Know What Everyone Supposedly Knows - Rick Richman (Commentary)
- For more than a decade, the guiding principle of the peace process has been that "everyone knows" what peace will look like: a Palestinian state on roughly the 1967 lines, with land swaps for the major Israeli settlement blocs, a shared Jerusalem, international compensation for the Palestinian refugees, and a "right of return" to the new Palestinian state rather than Israel.
- Yet a new poll conducted jointly by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace shows that the Palestinian public opposes such a solution by a lopsided majority.
- Writing Wednesday in Yediot Ahronot, Sever Plocker asserts that while most Israelis are prepared to support a Palestinian state, they have in mind a state "not much different from the Palestinian Authority that exists today."
- "Ask now in a poll how many Israelis are ready for the evacuation of 150-200,000 settlers from Judea and Samaria, an IDF withdrawal from bases in the Jordan Valley, the deployment of Palestinian border police between Kalkilya and Kfar Saba, a new border in Jerusalem, and turning the territories into a foreign country that will absorb hundreds of thousands of militant refugees from the camps in Lebanon - and see how the numbers of those who support a 'two-state solution' drop to near zero."
- But all this is hypothetical. The Palestinians rejected the Clinton Parameters in 2000 and effectively rejected them again in 2008 in the Annapolis Process. The new poll makes it clear they would reject them a third time, despite what "everyone knows."
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