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Half of Americans Oppose Unilateral Palestinian State - Jordana Horn (Jerusalem Post)
51% of American voters would oppose and 31% would support a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, a newly released poll found.
See Poll: American Attitudes toward the Middle East - April 2011
Iran Pipeline Blast Caused by "Sabotage" - Thomas Erdbrink (Washington Post)
A large explosion at Iran's main energy pipeline hub Friday outside of Qom was caused by sabotage, Parviz Sorouri, an influential member of Parliament, said Sunday.
The explosion comes amid an increase in mysterious blasts, assassinations and other incidents in the Islamic Republic, including a similar blast Feb. 11 that temporarily halted north-south gas transportation in the country.
Tweeting the Police State in Syria -
Hugh Macleod (Al Jazeera)
Syrian cyber activist "Rami Nakhle," operating from a safe house in Beirut, is a hub of a growing and impressively organized network of activists using social media to break the bonds of one of the world's most tightly controlled police states and publish news and images of the unprecedented protest movement which has broken out against the regime in Syria.
Every 10 minutes or so Rami's laptop chirps with the sound of an incoming Skype call. The Internet phone system allows for anonymous users and its encryption is complicated enough to make it almost impossible for authorities to listen in.
All the time Rami's "Tweet Deck," a platform for advanced Twitter users, is humming and pulsing with messages from colleagues inside Syria.
Activists on the street in Syria's major cities gather testimony from eyewitnesses and feed it back to the computer crew who cross reference the information with other sources before sending out updates on Facebook or Twitter.
See also Social Networks Also Empower Enemies of Freedom - Niall Ferguson (Newsweek)
It is not only proponents of democracy who know how to exploit the power of online networking. It is also the enemies of freedom.
Before Facebook took down a page called "Third Palestinian Intifada" - which proclaimed that "Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews" - it had notched 350,000 "likes."
Fouad X, the head of IT for Hizbullah in Lebanon, said, "our email is flooded with CVs" from Islamist geeks wanting to "serve a sacred cause."
IDF Medical Aid Delegation Returns from Japan (Jerusalem Post)
The IDF medical aid delegation to Japan is returning to Israel after physicians from the Medical Crops treated 220 patients during their two-week stay.
X-ray machinery, lab equipment and the majority of other medical equipment used by the IDF team in Japan will remain in the country.
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- U.S. Blocks Quartet Meeting on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The U.S. blocked an initiative by Britain, France and Germany to restart stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks by proposing the outlines of a final settlement, UN diplomats and a U.S. official said Monday.
The U.S. official said the Obama administration didn't think a Quartet meeting would produce anything useful in terms of getting the talks restarted, saying: "It wasn't the right time."
The three European powers decided to try a new approach in pressing for a substantial declaration from the Quartet that would outline a peace solution, including borders.
But having the EU and UN take the lead would sideline the U.S. (AP-Washington Post)
- Iran Touts Major Advances in Nuclear Program - Joby Warrick
Iran is proclaiming significant gains in its nuclear program, progress that Western officials and experts say could effectively erase setbacks from recent cyber attacks and shorten the timeline for acquiring nuclear weapons. Scientists from Iran's atomic energy program said they have successfully tested advanced centrifuges, underscoring recent assessments that Iran is preparing to speed up its production of enriched uranium.
"If they can get the new machines performing well, and in large numbers, it will make a big difference," said Olli Heinonen, a former nuclear safeguards chief for the International Atomic Energy Agency.
- Syrian University Protests Violently Suppressed - Katherine Zoepf
Pro-democracy protests at Damascus University in Syria were violently suppressed on Monday as witnesses said that one student was killed. Human rights advocates say nearly 200 protesters have been killed since demonstrations began against Bashar Assad's authoritarian government in mid-March. As they have spread to dozens of communities across Syria and become more violent, it has become more difficult for the government to maintain that the deaths of protesters were the work of foreign saboteurs trying to spread terror.
(New York Times)
See also Muslim Brotherhood Supports Anti-Assad Protests - Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters)
See also Former U.S. Official: White House Divided over Syria - Mohamed Ali Saleh (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Asks UN to Condemn Rocket Attacks from Gaza - Jordana Horn
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Meron Reuben has written to the Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, expressing "grave concern" over the recent escalation in rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinians and stating that Israel holds Hamas "fully responsible."
Since April 7, terrorists in Gaza have fired 12 Grad missiles, 70 Kassam rockets and 49 mortars at communities in Israel. "Attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip constitute a clear violation of international law," he wrote, referencing six previous letters on the topic.
See also IDF Sources: Conflict with Hamas Likely to Escalate - Yaakov Katz
A shaky cease-fire went into effect on Monday, ending several days of Gaza attacks and IDF counterattacks.
"We succeeded in postponing a large-scale conflict with Hamas but that conflict is likely inevitable," a senior IDF officer said on Monday.
- Netanyahu: PA Believes It Doesn't Have to Negotiate - Herb Keinon
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told EU ambassadors on Monday that the "stumbling block" to movement in the diplomatic process was that the Palestinian Authority was working on the assumption that it didn't need to negotiate, and that it had a "free pass" from the world not to negotiate.
He called on the EU countries to give the PA a clear message that it was time to return to negotiations.
Netanyahu said that moves by key members of the EU - Britain, France and Germany - to have the Quartet define the parameters of a future Israeli-Palestinian agreement as being along the 1967 lines, inadvertently damaged the diplomatic process because they created the impression among the Palestinian leadership that they could get what they wanted from the international community without negotiating with Israel.
- Hamas Strategists Paying Heavy Price for Miscalculations - Yigal Walt
Hamas' first miscalculation was the failure to estimate Israel's response to the missile attack on an Israeli school bus Thursday.
Gaza terrorists were counting on the "Goldstone effect" to tamper any punishing Israeli strikes on Gaza. Worse for Hamas, the current round of fighting coincided with the West's campaign against Gaddafi. NATO forces have been bombing a foreign country, Libya, in order to prevent murderous attacks on civilians - the same logic behind Israel's strikes against Gaza terrorists. If the West wishes to adopt the Libya logic in Gaza as well, it will be bombing Hamas. Indeed, Israel's incessant strikes on Gaza targets were met with a rather deafening global silence.
If all that wasn't enough, Israel deployed the Iron Dome anti-rocket system earlier than expected, shooting down virtually every Gaza missile threatening Israeli population centers. Hamas' missiles have largely hit nothing, landing in empty fields or being blown to pieces in midair. During the same time, some 20 terrorists were killed in Gaza, dozens of others were wounded, and assorted targets across the Strip were destroyed.
See also Arab League Calls for No-Fly Zone over Gaza - Ayman Samir and Sarah Mikhail (Reuters)
- Israel Must Not Succumb to False Diplomatic Alarms - Moshe Arens
States have never been created by UN declarations. Israel was not created by UN Resolution 181 in November 1947, but by David Ben-Gurion's declaration of Israeli independence on May 15, 1948, and by the IDF's ability to take and control the areas of the new state.
A UN declaration, whether at the Security Council or the General Assembly, recognizing a Palestinian state within the borders of the April 1949 armistice lines with Jordan, with Jerusalem as its capital, will be no more effective than Security Council Resolution 1701, which prohibited Hizbullah from military operations in southern Lebanon, or General Assembly Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism.
If this latest declaration is actually passed, it will merely serve as another reminder of the impotence of the UN and its irrelevance when it comes to dealing with international conflicts.
The writer is a former Israeli defense minister, foreign minister, and ambassador to the U.S. (Ha'aretz)
- Can America Block Iran's Drive for Regional Hegemony? - Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor
In the Arab-Israeli conflict, the addition of a religious layer to the conflict is new. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah are all religiously-based. When one speaks and acts for God, there is no compromise.
Iran is a nation of merchants, and it needs the world and its financial system. This gives leverage to those who want to do something about its nuclear plans. If there is leadership, resolve, and persistence, with more sanctions, and more partners in the game, there is a chance that Iran will have to rethink its policy. Europe can do more. The volume of trade between certain European countries and Iran remains quite heavy.
In the end, this battle will determine the standing of the U.S. and its power and role in the world in the 21st century. I believe that America has enough power to reinvent itself economically and restore the power that it had, but the perception that Iran is spreading is just the opposite.
Israel is part of the camp that America has been leading for the last 70 years in terms of values, way of life, and democracy. It is important to us that this camp not lose its power in the world, and that is why a strong America is a very clear Israeli interest.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Turn the Heat Up on Assad - Amb. Marc Ginsberg (Huffington Post)
- Syria has benefited greatly as Iran's pawn, reaping enormous amounts of Iranian economic largess for its services as doorman to Hizbullah's growing domination of Lebanon - a domination that serves Syria's barely disguised claims to Lebanon, as well. President Obama's engagement effort was a reasonable, but ultimately futile exercise because Washington had not developed any meaningful leverage against Assad if he continued his old ways.
- Too often, Washington looked the other way at Assad's domestic repression and his overt support for terrorism in the name of safeguarding a future possibility of neutralizing Syria's potential troublemaking role to thwart a U.S.-brokered peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Assad has no more credit left in that bank account and he has blackmailed us enough into believing Syria is the yellow brick road to peace in the Middle East. It is not.
- Given Assad's record and what his continuation in office would mean to weakened U.S. policy prospects in the Middle East, I would wager that the U.S. from almost every conceivable vantage point is better off with the Assad family gone.
- President Obama needs to ratchet up the rhetoric against Assad and his regime to provide far more moral support to the protestors. In addition, after safeguarding the evacuation of Americans from Syria, Washington should begin seizing the assets of prominent Syrian government officials directly responsible for the violence, including members of the Assad family.
- The administration should place Assad on notice that the U.S. will lead efforts to present international criminal charges against him and anyone else in his government directly or indirectly responsible for killing innocent Syrians unless he yields power in a negotiated exit.
- Syria's people, like their Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan fraternal Arab democrats, deserve to know that America will stand by them as best as we can against a regime that has no further legitimacy.
The writer was appointed in 1994 by President Clinton as U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, the first American of Jewish heritage to be appointed ambassador to an Arab nation.
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