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WikiLeaks: Hizbullah Can Fire 400-600 Rockets a Day in Next War - Yaakov Katz and Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
Hizbullah would likely shoot between 400 and 600 missiles a day into Israel during a future war, a senior Mossad official told a U.S. Congressional delegation to Israel in 2009, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable published on Sunday.
According to the Mossad official, 100 of the missiles will hit Tel Aviv.
Syria Rejects Israel Peace Report (UPI)
A Syrian official has refuted the Kuwait newspaper al-Rai report that Washington is secretly engaged in talks with Damascus to renew peace talks with Israel.
SANA, the state-run Syrian news agency, quoted a "well-informed Syrian source" calling the report "baseless and unfounded."
Repercussions from Israel's Natural Gas Find - Susan Kraemer (Green Prophet)
The Leviathan gas find tosses out Israel's previous relationship with the world. The biggest deep-water gas find in a decade has enough reserves to supply Israel's gas needs for 100 years.
Currently, 71% of Israel's electricity is fueled by imported Russian coal.
Coal plants are fairly easily converted to burn natural gas, as U.S. utilities have found. Israel can now easily and economically swap almost three-quarters of its current electricity portfolio to one with less than half the carbon cost.
With this find, Israel is not just energy independent, itself.
But customers from throughout Asia are now wooing the formerly friendless nation, desperate for the last drops of fossil fuels.
Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes Surge in New York - Fredric U. Dicker (New York Post)
Hate crimes across New York state jumped 14% in 2009, led by an increase in attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, according to a report released Thursday by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Anti-Semitic incidents, which made up 37% of reported hate crimes, rose from 219 in 2008 to 251 in 2009.
The number of anti-Muslim incidents rose from 8 to 11.
Which Side Is the Tiny,Threatened Minority? - Uri Elitzur (Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 31Dec10)
We in Israel are 6 million Jews surrounded by 250 million Arabs, and beyond them a billion Muslims.
We are the tiny, threatened minority - and the Palestinians are an integral part of the vast, threatening majority.
Hamas Arrested 3,120 Fatah Loyalists in 2010 - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
In the past year alone, Hamas security forces in Gaza arrested 3,120 Fatah members and supporters.
Hamas also closed down 23 Fatah-affiliated institutions, including sports clubs and social organizations.
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- WikiLeaks: Israel Has Only 12-Minute Warning If Iran Attacks
Israel's army chief Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told a U.S. Congressional delegation he was preparing for a large war in the Middle East, probably against Hamas or Hizbullah, according to a WikiLeaks document dated November 15, 2009, quoted Sunday in Norway's Aftenposten.
"I am preparing the Israeli army for a large-scale war, since it is easier to scale down to a smaller operation than to do the opposite." "The rocket threat against Israel is more serious than ever. That is why Israel is putting such emphasis on rocket defense," Ashkenazi said. Iran has some 300 Shihab rockets that can reach Israel and stressed that the Jewish state would have only between 10 and 12 minutes warning in case of an attack.
"Israel is on a collision course also with Hamas, which rules Gaza."
"Hamas will have the possibility to bombard Tel Aviv, with Israel's highest population concentration." Israel next time will not accept "any restrictions on warfare in populated areas," and he insisted the army had never intentionally attacked civilian targets.
- Israeli Prime Minister Wants Nonstop Talks with Palestinians - Matti Friedman
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he's ready to sit down with the Palestinian president for continuous one-on-one talks until they reach a peace deal, in an apparent bid to breathe life into stalled Mideast peacemaking. Netanyahu says he is ready to discuss all "core" issues with Abbas. (AP)
See also Israel Says Direct Negotiations Best Path to Peace
Face-to-face negotiations are still the best path to peace with the Palestinians, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Shahar Azrami said Saturday in response to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' call on Friday for the international community to come up with a new peace plan. "Israel has been quite adamant in the last few months in trying to get the Palestinians to sit with Israel around the negotiating table and only once this option is exhausted should we think about trying to reach new solutions." (AFP)
- Christian Coptic Church Bombing in Alexandria, Egypt, Kills 21 - Borzou Daragahi and Amro Hassan
A devastating New Year's Day terrorist bombing at a Coptic church in Egypt that killed 21 people was the latest in a wave of violence against Christian communities in the Muslim world, some of which date back to antiquity.
An Oct. 31 siege on a Baghdad church that killed 58 parishioners sparked a new Christian exodus from the Iraqi capital and the northern city of Mosul. About 1,000 families sought refuge in Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish enclave afterward, according to the UN.
In an annual New Year's speech at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI said: "In front of the current threatening tensions, in front of especially the discrimination, tyranny and religious intolerance that today hit in particular the Christians, once again I deliver the pressing invite to not cave in to depression and resignation," adding that officials' "words are not enough" in confronting religious intolerance.
"There must be a concrete and constant effort from leaders of nations."
Most Middle Eastern countries outside the Arabian Peninsula have sizable Christian communities, including the Maronites in Lebanon, Armenians in Iran, and the Orthodox in Syria. But their numbers have shrunk over the last century, experts say. Christians now account for less than 5% of the Middle East's population, down from 20%.
(Los Angeles Times)
See also below Commentary: The Plight of the Copts - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: Israel Agreed to New Settlement Freeze But U.S. Retracted Offer - Jonathan Lis
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that he had agreed to the U.S. suggestion of a three-month extension to the West Bank settlement freeze, but the Americans were the ones who retracted the offer.
"The United States asked us to consider extending the freeze by three months, and the truth is that we were prepared to do so," he said.
Netanyahu said that contrary to what was reported, it was not Israel but the "United States who decided against that direction, rightfully, in my opinion." "I told Obama that I am prepared to go with this to the cabinet and that I will be able to enforce the move, but then I received the surprising phone call from the Americans who said they no longer demand that Israel extends the freeze."
"The Americans were right in saying that the settlement freeze will lead to a dead end, in which we would have entered an endless path of settlement freezes." Netanyahu also said the Palestinians' attempts to pursue unilateral statehood will fail.
"We are aware of their steps - even the [U.S.] Congress opposed these unilateral steps and it seems that the Americans will not be partners to a forced agreement." (Ha'aretz)
- Two Arrested in Hamas Plot to Fire Rockets into Jerusalem Soccer Stadium - Anshel Pfeffer
The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) has arrested Mussa Hamada and Basem Omri, two Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem, suspected of plotting to fire rockets during a soccer game at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem on behalf of Hamas, it was revealed Sunday. Both suspects have allegedly been affiliated with terrorist activities organized by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood for a number of years.
The two had scouted out the hills around the stadium to find a spot from which to launch the rockets and had been gathering information about security in the area. Hamada apparently met with other Islamist activists a number of times over the last few years in Saudi Arabia, where he acquired money and pistols.
- The Plight of the Copts - Editorial
Copts make up about 10% of Egyptís 80 million populace. In September, Al-Jazeera TV broadcast a two-hour program called "Without Limits" that accused the Coptic Church of hiding Israeli weapons and ammunition in monasteries and churches, purportedly in preparation for a war "against the Muslims" that would lead to the creation of an autonomous Coptic state. The only evidence mustered to support these claims was an incident in mid-August in which the son of a priest in Port Said was falsely accused of smuggling weapons from Israel. The contraband turned out to be Chinese-made fireworks.
In state schools, textbooks represent Egypt as an exclusively Muslim state and include anti-Christian texts. In the summer of 2008, the Egyptian doctors syndicate, which has increasingly been taken over by Muslim Brotherhood activists, banned all organ transplants between Muslims and Copts.
See also Egyptian Lawyers Claim Israel Behind Copt Attack
A coalition of Egyptian lawyers accused Israel of being behind a terror attack in Alexandria that killed 21 members of the Christian Copt sect, Israel Army Radio reported Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
- U.S. Appoints Ambassador to Syria - Charles Krauthammer
Syria is a regime that has been arming Hizbullah to the teeth, tens of thousands of rockets, violating every provision of the truce that was declared after the second Israel-Lebanon war, ally of Iran, essentially an enemy of the United States, undermining all our activities and infiltrating itself into Lebanon out of which it had been kicked in 2005. All of this is happening and what does the administration do? It sends an ambassador in return for absolutely nothing.
Obama had a dream that if he sweet-talked Assad he would get Syria to break its relations with Iran and Hizbullah and become an ally of the United States. It gave all kind of inducements. It was humiliated by Assad's response. He expressed contempt for these inducements.
See also A White House Clueless on Syria - Michael Young
A WikiLeaks cable, dated Feb. 2009, recounted a meeting with the French diplomatic troubleshooter and former ambassador to Syria Jean-Claude Cousseran, who "urged that Washington should 'get something tangible' from the Syrian regime. He cautioned that the Syrians were masters of avoiding any real concessions and were adept at showering visitors with wonderful atmospherics and delightful conversations before sending them away empty handed." This was very sound counsel, which Obama has basically ignored by dispatching Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford to Damascus for nothing tangible.
Cousseran also cautioned Washington against over-reaching: "If the U.S. were to aim for something too difficult, such as urging Syria to sever its ties to Hamas or Hizbullah, than it would get nowhere." Washington wants to engage Syria so that it will give up on alliances that the Syrians will never willingly surrender.
Obama should have sent Ford to Syria in exchange for a solid concession from Assad - perhaps Syrian acceptance of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections, which Damascus has refused to sanction; or maybe Syrian consent to the return of direct negotiations with Israel. It made no sense for Obama to throw away a card he should have made Syria pay for. The writer is opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut.
Talking to Hamas? - Increasing Expressions of
Genocidal Intent by Hamas Leaders Against the Jews - Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Over the last few years there has been a steady drumbeat of calls from leading figures in the international community for Israel to open a dialogue with Hamas.
- Unfortunately, there is no evidence of a new pragmatism among the Hamas leadership, but only greater indications of a much harder line, which is expressed by its adoption of expressions of genocidal intent in its war against Israel and the Jewish people.
- In a December 2010 booklet marking the 23rd anniversary of the establishment of Hamas, Mohammed Def, head of the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamasí military wing, wrote: "We say to our enemies: you are going on the path to extinction, and Palestine will remain ours....You have no right to even an inch of it."
- Ahmed al-Jaabari, the acting supreme commander of the al-Qassam Brigades, wrote: "Our eyes will...not be confined to the borders of Gaza. Our plan of struggle shall extend as always, sooner or later, to our entire plundered country....As long as the Zionists occupy our lands, only death or exile await them."
- Senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya told al-Hayat on November 11, 2010: "We retain our Islamic, Arab and Palestinian faith that Palestine will be returned to its inhabitants and Zionist existence will conclude....The Jews will have no right there, save for those who lived on Palestinian land prior to the First World War" (meaning that only Jews above the age of 96 will be permitted to live in Islamic Palestine).
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