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Report: Iran Building Rocket Bases in Venezuela - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
The Iranian government is moving forward with the construction of rocket launch bases in Venezuela, the German daily Die Welt wrote on Friday.
Iran is building intermediate-range missile launch pads on the Paraguana Peninsula, and engineers from the Khatam al-Anbia construction firm owned by the Revolutionary Guards visited Paraguana in February. Amir al-Hadschisadeh, the head of the Guard's Air Force, participated in the visit.
Twenty-meter deep rocket silos are planned. The Iranians paid in cash for the preliminary phase of the project.
UN Peacekeepers Fail to Stop Nakba Day Border Incursions - Lenny Ben-David (I*Consult)
The Nakba Day marches on May 15 involved the illegal invasion of Israeli territory.
Hamas was behind the attack at the Erez Crossing from Gaza, the Syrian government organized the recruitment and busing of hundreds of Syrian-Palestinians to Majdal Shams on the Golan Heights, and Hizbullah paid for and organized the assault from Lebanon.
Close inspection of photos (which accompany this article) shows the hostile intention of the assaults.
Notice that there are no photos of UN peacekeeping forces along Israel's border with Lebanon and Syria - UNIFIL and UNDOF - trying to stop the incursions and protect the peace.
The international forces mandated to keep peace were nowhere to be seen when Israel's sovereignty and security were under attack.
Obama to Address AIPAC on Sunday (AP-Washington Post)
The White House says President Barack Obama will address the pro-Israel group AIPAC's annual conference in Washington on Sunday.
Dutch Foreign Minister Tries to Stop Boycott Funding - Benny Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
According to a report by The Hague-based Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), the Dutch Foreign Ministry has allocated at least 10 million euros over a five-year period to organizations urging a boycott of Israel.
Uri Rosenthal, the Dutch foreign minister, wrote to CIDI last month saying, "Intervention will occur in cases of organizations acting against Dutch policy."
The Foreign Ministry under Rosenthal has begun to institute sweeping reforms to stop Dutch charities from funding anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and NGOs that deny Israel's right to exist.
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- U.S. Accuses Syria of Inciting Israel Border Clashes
The White House accused the Syrian government on Monday of inciting deadly border clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators, saying Damascus was trying to distract attention from its own violent crackdown on protests.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Israel "has the right to prevent unauthorized crossing at its borders."
See also below Commentary: Israel's Border Bloodshed: Will Syria Be Held Accountable? - Editorial (Washington Post)
- Israeli Leader's Upcoming U.S. Trip Loses Steam - Edmund Sanders and Paul Richter
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to embark on a U.S. trip his aides once said would include a "historic" announcement designed to jump-start the Middle East peace process, there's a growing consensus that neither Israel nor Washington is ready to make any bold moves after all.
Some of the pressure Israel was facing from the U.S. and Europe has been at least temporarily lifted by the international unease over a May 4 reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas.
The Obama administration has also shelved, for now, the idea of laying out any of its own prescriptions for restarting the peace talks. The administration was deeply split on whether to offer an "Obama plan," with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, departing Middle East special envoy George Mitchell and some aides in the National Security Council arguing for it. The skeptics included White House Middle East advisor Dennis Ross. (Los Angeles Times)
See also below Observations: Israel Can Only Make Peace with Those Who Want to Make Peace - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
- Iranian President Ahmadinejad's Spiritual Mentor Criticizes for His Role in Internal Power Struggle
The spiritual mentor of Iranian President Ahmadinejad has harshly criticized him for his role in an internal power struggle that has split the country's hard-liners, indicating that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's own support base is badly fraying. Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi said Ahmadinejad is increasingly turning friends into enemies and demonstrating what he called "illogical and cheap" behavior, in an interview published Saturday in the hard-line weekly Shoma.
Ahmadinejad and his backers are struggling to regroup after the stinging rebuke by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over the dismissal of the intelligence minister.
The showdown was interpreted as further evidence of a growing rift between Ahmadinejad and the ruling theocracy and a sign that Khamenei is seeking to tighten his grip on political affairs.
See also Iran President Ahmadinejad Sacks 3 Ministers in Power Struggle
Iran's president Saturday fired three key Cabinet ministers, all Ahmadinejad loyalists, in a way that bypassed several steps that require parliamentary approval.
The dismissals are an apparent attempt by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to send a message of defiance to critics in parliament, who are now emboldened after Ahmadinejad lost a humbling confrontation with Iran's supreme leader.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Complains to UN Over Syria and Lebanon's Responsibility for Border Riots
Following Sunday's provocative demonstrations on Israel's borders, Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Meron Reuben, filed letters of complaint with the Security Council and the Secretary General.
"A group of hundreds of individuals in Syria tore down the Alpha Fence, in breach of the agreed disengagement line between Israel and Syria....Any harm caused to the individuals involved in these violent demonstrations lies clearly with the Government of Syria, which is responsible for preventing infiltration of the agreed disengagement line between Israel and Syria."
"A group of hundreds of individuals near the village of Maroun al-Ras in Lebanon sought to breach the Blue Line and infiltrate into Israel using violence....Any harm caused to the individuals involved in these violent demonstrations lies clearly with the Government of Lebanon, which is responsible for preventing any infiltration of the Blue Line or provocations in its vicinity."
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- IDF Writing Doctrine on Containing Border Marches - Yaakov Katz
The IDF Ground Forces Command is completing a new operational doctrine for containing anti-Israel marches in preparation for an expected increase in demonstrations ahead of the Palestinians' unilateral declaration of statehood in September.
- Israelís Border Bloodshed: Will Syria Be Held Accountable? - Editorial
The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad on Sunday made a desperate effort to distract attention from its continuing, bloody assaults on its own people. Hundreds of Palestinians were bused from refugee camps near Damascus to the de facto border with Israel in the Golan Heights, where they broke through a fence and invaded a nearby town. No one can reach the heavily militarized Syrian front with Israel without the consent and cooperation of the Assad regime.
The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has been portrayed as preferring the Assad regime to a revolution, in part because Syria has kept the peace on the Golan Heights border. Yet now Mr. Assad has shown that he is ready to disrupt that peace in the effort to save himself. The only reasonable conclusion, for both Israel and the U.S., is that this Syrian regime can never be a reliable neighbor or partner - and that peace in the Middle East depends on its demise. (Washington Post)
- Back to the Future in the Middle East - Editorial
Sunday's coordinated attacks on the Israeli border mark a dangerous turn back toward Mideast conflict. Most of the Palestinians in Syria were bused to the Israeli border from two camps controlled by factions friendliest to the Assad regime. Syrian border guards, who since the 1974 truce have kept anyone on their side far from the frontier, let the arrivals rush through.
As ominously, Egypt's post-Mubarak elites are brushing up on their Nasser-style nationalism and anti-Israel populism. Some of the leaders who helped mobilize the protesters on Tahrir Square joined in calls for a "Third Intifada" against Israel. Secular groups have joined with the Muslim Brotherhood in demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo.
The Arab Spring began as an effort by Arab publics to reform their own sclerotic politics. If they now retreat to blaming Israel for all of their problems, the uprising in the streets will be for naught.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Why George Mitchell Failed - Tawfik Hamid
Approaching the Arab-Israeli conflict from the perspective that it is about land, so that giving more land to the Palestinians will solve the problem, is a failed endeavor. Israel has already given Egypt the whole of the Sinai, and got nothing in return except a cold peace and rising anti-Semitism in the country. Similarly the disengagement from Gaza did not magically lead to a decline in the wave of anti-Semitism in the Muslim world.
Until U.S. envoys to the Middle East realize that the problem in the eyes of the Palestinians is not the borders of Israel but the very existence of the country, all future missions will similarly fail. The writer is a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.
Israel Can Only Make Peace with Those Who Want to Make Peace - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Knesset Monday:
- The Middle East is changing rapidly and drastically. Hundreds of millions of people around us yearn for political freedom and are fighting to obtain these freedoms. It is very possible that in the long term, these changes will be for the best. But in the short term, our situation could possibly worsen.
- We saw what happened along the borders of Israel. Thousands thronged against our fences in an attempt to invade our territory and challenge our sovereignty. What were they yelling in Gaza? That they want to return to Jaffa.
What were they crying in Syria? That they want to return to the Galilee.
What did the leader of Hamas say? "We want to see the end of the Zionist agenda," the very same words used by his patrons in Iran.
- The root of this conflict never was a Palestinian state, or lack thereof. The root of the conflict is, and always has been, their refusal to recognize the Jewish state. It is not a conflict over 1967, but over 1948, over the very existence of the State of Israel. Sunday's events did not occur on June 5, the anniversary of the Six-Day War. They occurred on May 15, the day the State of Israel was established.
- The citizens of Israel are much more united than is commonly believed. There is consensus regarding the basic issues:
- The Palestinians must recognize the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.
- The agreement between us must end the conflict and end the demands from the State of Israel.
- The problem of the Palestinian refugees will be resolved outside of Israel and not within its borders.
- A Palestinian state will only be established under a peace treaty that will not compromise the safety of Israel. This state must be demilitarized, with practical security arrangements, including long-term IDF presence along the Jordan River.
- We must maintain the settlement blocs. Many of us agree that the settlement blocs must remain inside the borders of the State of Israel.
- Jerusalem must remain the united and sovereign capital of the State of Israel.
- We can only make peace with those who want to make peace with us. Those who wish to obliterate us are no partners for peace. A Palestinian government with half its members declaring daily that they plan to annihilate the Jewish state is not a partner for peace.
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