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January 17, 2011

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WikiLeaks: Iran Searching for Nuclear Bomb Materials (Reuters)
    Iran has been developing contacts in more than 30 countries to acquire technology, equipment and raw materials needed to build a nuclear bomb, the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten said on Sunday, citing U.S. diplomatic cables.
    More than 350 Iranian companies and organizations were involved in the pursuit of nuclear and missile technology between 2006 and 2010, according to the cables.
    "A race exists between the bomb and [Iranian] financial collapse," a cable quoted a French nuclear expert as saying.
    "Iran's limited domestic supply of uranium makes it practically impossible to supply the nation's current and future nuclear power plant capacity," said a U.S. State Department note from February 2009.
    "Consequently, the Iranians are likely to be forced into dealing with foreign suppliers to get uranium for their domestic nuclear industry."

Report: South Africa Seeks Arrest of Former Israeli Foreign Minister (Ynet News)
    The South African Media Review Network (MRN) is trying to secure an arrest warrant against Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni for her role in the Gaza war, a local news website reported Saturday.
    Livni, who served as foreign minister during the Gaza operation, is due in South Africa this month at the invitation of the Jewish Board of Deputies.
    We have "instructed our legal team to take all necessary measures to secure an arrest warrant and to pave the way for her prosecution," said MRN chairperson Iqbal Jassat.

Study: PA Highly Dependent on Foreign Aid - Gil Kol (Ynet News)
    More than 60% of the Palestinian Authority's GNP comes from the U.S., EU, UN, World Bank and others countries, according to a study by economic analyst Eyal Ofer in cooperation with president of the Financial Immunities consulting firm Adam Roiter.
    The Palestinian people receive the largest amount of donations worldwide. For every Palestinian citizen, the PA receives an average of $1,000 per year.
    The data reinforces the claim that there is no Palestinian economy, and that in reality it is almost exclusively supported by the donation industry.
    "The donations go toward the entrenchment of government institutions instead of the development of infrastructure, industry, human capital, etc.," explained Roiter. "What we have here is a schnorrer country, without which it does not exist."
    "The funds go into the pockets of bureaucratic echelons and to the monstrous administrative apparatus that mostly deals with allocation of funds and fundraising."

PA Probes Palestinian Officials for Financial Malfeasance - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A special commission entrusted with investigating financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority has begun studying cases involving some 80 senior officials including ministers serving in the current PA government, PA Prosecutor-General Ahmed al-Mughni announced.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Report: Stuxnet a Joint U.S.-Israel Project - William J. Broad, John Markoff and David E. Sanger
    Over the past two years, Israel's nuclear facility in Dimona has served as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran's efforts to make a bomb of its own. "The reason the worm has been effective is that the Israelis tried it out," said an American expert on nuclear intelligence.
        The retiring chief of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, Meir Dagan, told the Israeli Knesset in recent days that Iran had run into technological difficulties that could delay a bomb. The biggest single factor in putting time on the nuclear clock appears to be Stuxnet, the most sophisticated cyberweapon ever deployed.
        The worm appears to have included two major components. One was designed to send Iran's nuclear centrifuges spinning wildly out of control. The computer program also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those readings back to plant operators so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart. Nor is it clear the attacks are over: Some experts believe the code contains the seeds for yet more assaults. (New York Times)
        See also Russian Scientists Warn: Don't Activate Bushehr Reactor Due to Stuxnet Virus - Con Coughlin
    Russian nuclear scientists providing technical assistance to Iran's first nuclear power plant at Bushehr have raised serious concerns about the extensive damage caused to the plant's computer systems by the Stuxnet virus. According to Western intelligence reports, Russian scientists warned the Kremlin that they could be facing "another Chernobyl" if they were forced to comply with Iran's deadline to activate the complex this summer.
        Russian scientists working at the plant have become so concerned by Iran's apparent disregard for nuclear safety issues that they have lobbied the Kremlin to postpone activation until at least the end of the year, so that a proper assessment can be made of the damage caused to its computer operations by Stuxnet. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Israel Has Already Struck - Yossi Melman
    Israel will not attack Iran, at least not in the next few years, first and foremost, because the U.S. opposes such a move. Israel will not attack Iran because most of its decision-makers are concerned that this could be disastrous, with massive missile barrages targeting Israeli population centers and strategic sites. It is gradually becoming clearer that, according to foreign reports, Israeli intelligence, in cooperation with its American counterparts, has made such a strike redundant. The intelligence operation achieved a significant delay in Iran's nuclear program without any casualties. (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • PA Determined to Seek UN Anti-Settlement Resolution, Despite U.S. Opposition - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority has turned down a request from the U.S. to refrain from seeking a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements, chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat declared on Sunday. The U.S. has been putting pressure on the PA to refrain from going to the Security Council out of fear that such a move would have a negative impact on efforts to revive the stalled peace talks. "The Americans don't want us to present anything to the Security Council," Erekat said. "But we made it clear to them that, for us, the Security Council was a gate to international legitimacy."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Washington Hints at Mideast Veto - Harvey Morris
    The U.S. administration has signaled that it will this week veto a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Israel Widens Access to Little Western Wall in Jerusalem
    Israel has removed scaffolding which was limiting access to the Little Western Wall, a key Jewish site in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, officials said on Friday. The site is part of the same ancient wall that used to surround the Second Temple, and is considered holy by Jews. Each year, more than eight million people visit the Western Wall. (AFP)
        See also Site Near Al-Aqsa Opened to Jews - Mohammed Mar'i (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • UK to Jerusalem: Request Probe of Group "with Hamas Ties" - Jonny Paul
    The British government has invited Israel to submit a formal request that it investigate a London-based organization that Jerusalem accuses of being affiliated with Hamas and "complicit" in terrorist activities. Israel said the Palestine Return Center (PRC) was closely affiliated with Hamas and involved in "initiating and organizing violent activity against Israel in Europe while delegitimizing Israel's status as a nation among the European community." According to Israel, "the center functions as Hamas' organizational branch in Europe and its members are senior Hamas leaders who promote the movement's agenda in Europe, and directly interact with various Hamas leaders, particularly from Damascus."
        The PRC was established in 1996 by Palestinian academic Salman Abu-Sitta. According to a report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs last month, Abu-Sitta often equates Israel with Nazis and asserts that the "Palestinian Holocaust is unsurpassed in history." The report identifies five of the PRC's trustees as having a "clear" Muslim Brotherhood background. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Mapping the Organizational Sources of the Global Delegitimization Campaign Against Israel in the UK - Ehud Rosen (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Tunisia - Arab World's First Popular Uprising - Zvi Mazel
    What happened in Tunisia stunned and embarrassed Arab and Western countries alike. Tunisia was not a country made of revolutionary material. President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's government was stable and the economy prosperous. The country had expelled Rashad Anushi and the other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood after their party, Islamic Renewal, had obtained 17% of the vote in the 1987 elections. Since then, the West had seen in Ben Ali a bulwark against radical Islam. What no one wanted to see was that Ben Ali ruled with an iron fist and suffered neither legitimate opposition nor criticism. Corruption was rampant and the Ben Ali family, and that of his second wife Laila, were the principal beneficiaries.
        Suddenly the world was looking at a successful popular Arab revolution. There had been revolutions in the Arab world since it became independent of foreign colonial powers, but they were all military coups. What happened in Tunisia was different. It was started by the people, not the leaders, and their spontaneous protest appears to have been an authentic popular uprising. Arab countries are worried. Royal and presidential palaces are wondering whether this revolution will be the harbinger of more. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden, and a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Sudden Tear in the Fabric of the Arab World - Doug Saunders
    The violent events that reached a climax in Tunis on Friday aren't just the first full-fledged popular revolution the world has seen in some time - they're a sudden tear in the fabric of the Arab world, an irreparable rupture in the slick logic that has held two dozen countries in half-development limbo for generations. To most outside observers, the Tunisian uprising seemed to appear from nowhere. The people - and these were clearly ordinary citizens, not bearded Islamists or foreign-funded elites - won the day.
        In the past, we've said that authoritarian leadership is part of Arabic culture and tradition and is, therefore, broadly accepted by Arabs in ways it wouldn't be by anyone else. And that the democratic option would inevitably lead to rule by radical Islamists. These two myths have led the West to provide backing, legitimacy and investment to Arab dictators for decades. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
        See also In Peril: The Arab Status Quo - Anthony Shadid (New York Times)
  • Does Tunisia Mark a New Phase in Arab Politics? - Barry Rubin
    In Tunisia, a popular uprising fueled by unemployment, economic suffering and long-term discontent has overthrown the dictator, but not necessarily the dictatorship. Is this going to spread? Does it mark some new phase in Arab politics? Probably not. Tunisia is a very distinctive country. It has been the most Europeanized state in the Arab world, with the lowest proportional support for Islamism among its population. In Tunisia, the opponents' lack of leadership and organization is likely to mean that the same elite and the army will remain in control of the country. (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu: Events in Tunisia Show Why Ironclad Security Deal Necessary (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday:

  • "The region in which we live is unstable....If there is one conclusion, one clear lesson that arises from all that we see around us, it is that we need to lay the foundations of security in any agreement that we make."
  • "We cannot simply say 'We are signing a peace agreement,' close our eyes, and say 'We did it,' because we do not know with any clarity that the peace will indeed be honored. We would increase any agreement's chances of being honored by including within it stable and solid security arrangements."
  • "But there is another reason why we insist on peace agreements with a very strong security infrastructure and this is because peace can unravel. It could be that there are regime, and other, changes that may not be expected today, but which could happen tomorrow."
  • "Therefore, this government's policy is to bind peace and security together because security ensures peace and protects the State of Israel should it unravel."

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