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Warning Time for Missiles Aimed at Tel Aviv Reduced to 90 Seconds - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
The IDF Home Front Command has shortened the warning time for Tel Aviv area residents against incoming missiles from two minutes to 90 seconds, largely due to Hizbullah and Hamas' improved missiles.
Israel Delivers 12 UAVs to Russia (UPI)
Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) has delivered a dozen unmanned aerial vehicles to Russia under a $400 million contract, as part of an Israeli effort to encourage the Russians not to provide Iran and Syria with advanced weapons systems that could threaten the Jewish state.
"It is reasonable... to argue that Israel viewed UAV sales and joint military technology activity as a means of bringing influence to bear on Moscow," Jane's Defense Weekly observed.
The delivery stemmed from an April 2009 contract that marked Russia's first purchase of a foreign weapons system.
As part of the deal, IAI trained some 50 Russian pilots at its main facility near Tel Aviv.
"Israel is the world's leading exporter of drones, with more than 1,000 sold in 42 countries," said Jacques Chemia, chief engineer of IAI's UAV division.
See also Israel Trains British Army to Operate Drones (World Tribune)
See also Indian Navy Commissions Squadron of Israeli-Made UAVs (Sify-India)
Four Synagogues, Jewish School Vandalized in Montreal - Natasha Mozgovaya (Ha'aretz)
Canada's Jewish community is concerned over the orchestrated vandalism on four synagogues and a Jewish school in Montreal, where windows were shattered on Saturday night.
"Saturday night's attacks are by far the most severe series of attacks," Rabbi Reuben Poupko of Cote St. Luc's Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation and chairman of Montreal's Jewish Community Security Coordinating Committee told Ha'aretz.
Politicians Buy Shoes Made in Israel to Support Owner of Boycotted Store (National Post-Canada)
A Montreal-based human-rights group has held regular pickets outside Le Marcheur since last fall because it sells BeautiFeel brand shoes, which are made in Israel.
Politicians converged on the Montreal store on Saturday to show support for its owner by buying shoes.
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- UN Prosecutor Submits Indictment in Hariri Assassination Probe - Colum Lynch and Leila Fadel
UN prosecutor Daniel Bellemare on Monday submitted a sealed indictment against suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, concluding an investigation that has cast suspicion on top Syrian leaders and Hizbullah militants and contributed to the collapse this month of Lebanon's pro-Western government. It could be several weeks before the identities of the suspects are known and about a year before a trial is held.
President Obama welcomed the filing of the indictment as "an important step toward ending the era of impunity for murder in Lebanon....The Special Tribunal for Lebanon must be allowed to continue its work, free from interference and coercion." (Washington Post)
See also Hariri Told UN Investigator Syria Killed Father
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was convinced that Syria was behind the killing of his father, ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, according to a leaked recording of a 2007 meeting between Hariri and a UN investigator aired Sunday on Lebanese television and authenticated by Hariri's office. (AFP)
- Self-Immolation Protests Spread Across North Africa - Mona El-Naggar
The self-immolation of a Tunisian man a month ago that set off a popular uprising is inspiring similar acts of gruesome protest across North Africa.
In Algeria, four men have set themselves on fire in the last week, and one man in Egypt and another in Mauritania tried to do so on Monday.
(New York Times)
- European Countries Ask Palestinians to Postpone UN Anti-Settlement Resolution - Xiong Tong
Some European countries have asked Palestinians and Arab states to postpone presenting a draft resolution against Jewish settlement to the UN Security Council. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of PLO Executive Committee, said Monday that the European states want "more discussions" so that the U.S. would not veto the resolution. On Sunday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Xinhua that the U.S. opposes the move to bring the issue to the UN.
See also U.S. Trying to Stop UN Resolution against West Bank Settlements - Alex Spillius (Telegraph-UK)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Mossad Chief: Iran May Have Nukes before 2015
Outgoing Mossad Chief Meir Dagan addressed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday and changed his previous statement that Iran will not have nuclear weapons before 2015.
"The Iranian nuclear challenge will stay significant," Dagan said. He explained that the timing "will not change the fact that Iran is working towards nuclear military capabilities and in certain scenarios can shorten the time" it takes to have nuclear weapons.
- Netanyahu Determined to Advance Peace Talks - Attila Somfalvi
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to speed up the dialogue with the U.S. in a bid to renew the regional peace process, state officials said Monday. "The prime minister has made a strategic decision to advance to an agreement as long as Israel's security demands are met," a Jerusalem source said.
- Ethiopians Claiming Jewish Ancestry Arrive in Israel - Gil Shefler
350 Ethiopians claiming Jewish ancestry landed in Israel in the past two days. Previous Israeli governments have approved the immigration of around 11,000 Falash Mura, with those arriving this week the last members of a group of 3,000 who received authorization to come to Israel two years ago.
- How Much Anti-Semitism Is Too Much? - Anne Bayefsky
In 2010, 80% of all UN General Assembly resolutions criticizing specific countries for human rights violations were directed at Israel. Only six of the remaining 191 UN member states faced human rights criticism at all, one of which was the U.S. Half of the country-specific condemnatory resolutions and decisions ever adopted by the UN Human Rights Council target Israel.
This year the UN headquarters in New York will host the Durban 3 summit on racism in September, a few days after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, where Ahmadinejad and company will instruct Americans about tolerance. The event is named after the notorious 2001 Durban conference and is aimed at "mobilizing political will...for the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration," which charges Israel with racism and names no other state. (Jerusalem Post)
- Iran Tightens Its Belt and Its Fist
Iran spends $100 billion each year to pin down petrol, gas and electricity prices, besides the cost of staples. The symptoms of the malaise are legion: tea kettles simmer all day; the streets clog with recreational drivers out for a spin; lights glare because no one can be bothered to turn them off. "We can do it because we have oil," Iranians used to tell incredulous visitors.
Last month the price of petrol went up by 75% and that of diesel by more than 2000%. Electricity and water bills are expected to soar. The price of some types of bread has quadrupled.
The state's growing authoritarianism is expressed in different ways, from the hectoring tone of official speeches to the now total intolerance of the liberal opposition. Newspapers may no longer mention former presidential candidates Mousavi and Karroubi, and the country's biggest liberal political party has been banned.
In November, after a long tussle, a huge network of private universities fell into the government's clutches.
From films to television and book-publishing, Iran's official culture is now dominated by a small, pro-government clique.
See also Politically Confident, Iran Cuts Subsidies on Prices - William Yong (New York Times)
- Sunni vs. Shiite in Saudi Arabia - Joshua Teitelbaum
On Dec. 16, the Saudi city of Medina witnessed severe clashes between Sunnis and Shiites at the time of the annual Ashura gathering.
Wahhabism, the leading stream of Islam in Sunni Saudi Arabia, is extremely anti-Shiite, since certain Shiite practices conflict with Wahhabi Islamic practice. Shiites, who constitute 10-15% of the Saudi population, have suffered greatly under Saudi rule. Depredations have included killings, arbitrary arrests, job discrimination, and forbidding of their religious ceremonies.
With Shiite Iran on the cusp of nuclear arms, and with demonstrated victories by Iran's proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza, the Saudi rulers cannot afford to be seen coddling local Shiites. Saudi Sunnis expect their leaders to defend the honor and position of the Sunni majority, lest Shiite victories generate a sea change and reverse the age-old dominance of the Sunni sect of Islam.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Wishful Thinking in the Middle East Is Not Enough - Daniel S. Mariaschin (Miami Herald)
The Palestinian leadership seems to be working on the premise of wishing a state into being, at the expense of meaningful negotiations and an agreed upon security framework.
- Speaking of the campaign to win recognition of a Palestinian state by Latin American nations, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told AP: "These recognitions of a Palestinian state will help us to convince the Israelis on the necessity to reach a two-state solution."
- That's disingenuous. It is not the Israelis who need convincing. At every turn Israel has demonstrated a willingness to sit down to negotiate, while the Palestinians have followed the path of delays and deferrals.
- A Palestinian state can only be created through direct talks between Israel and Palestinian representatives. In collecting endorsements, Abbas circumvents that step and gives the Palestinian side license to evade meaningful negotiations.
- In declaring a state absent negotiations, the international community is sending the clear message to the Palestinians that there is no need for them to make any compromise: outsiders will do all the heavy lifting, and Israel will be left with a fait accompli. Such false hope - that the Palestinian side does not have to make any compromises - can only doom the process.
- Nearly 20 years ago, the Oslo Accords established a framework for all future negotiations. A key component - which the Palestinians agreed to - is that a Palestinian state would be created through talks between the parties. Pushing Israel out of the mix is a blatant violation of this agreement, which has been the guiding force in a side-by-side solution for nearly two decades.
The writer is executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International.
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