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May 30, 2011

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Iran Aiding Syrian Crackdown - Joby Warrick (Washington Post)
    U.S. officials say Iran is dispatching increasing numbers of trainers and advisers - including members of its elite Quds Force - into Syria to help crush anti-government demonstrations that are threatening to topple Iran's most important ally in the region.
    The influx of Iranian manpower is adding to a steady stream of aid from Tehran that includes not only weapons and riot gear but also sophisticated surveillance equipment that is helping Syrian authorities track down opponents through their Facebook and Twitter accounts, the sources said.
    Iranian-assisted computer surveillance is believed to have led to the arrests of hundreds of Syrians in recent weeks.

Syrian Tanks Attack Towns that Held Protests - Bassem Mroue (AP)
    Syrian government troops backed by tanks attacked two central towns Sunday in an attempt to stop round-the-clock protests against President Bashar Assad's regime, killing at least two people and wounding several others.
    Security forces in several other parts of the country fired on crowds holding overnight demonstrations, causing casualties.
    See also Al-Jazeera: Syrian Soldiers Shot after Refusing to Fire at Protestors - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)

Syrian Protesters Burn Hizbullah Leader Nasrallah's Pictures (Reuters-Gulf News-Dubai)
    Protesters on Friday burned pictures of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah in the Syrian city of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border.
    Nasrallah's speech in Beirut this week in support of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad infuriated demonstrators and activists, a tribal leader in the province said.

Abbas: Future State Free of All Israelis (UPI)
    Speaking before the Arab League in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said the future Palestinian state should be free of all Israelis.
    At the conclusion of the meeting, the Arab League issued a statement citing its appreciation for President Obama's commitment to a two-state solution based on 1967 lines, the Gulf Times reported.

Egypt's Mubarak Fined by Cairo Court (Reuters)
    An Egyptian court on Saturday fined ousted President Hosni Mubarak and two former officials 540 million Egyptian pounds ($90.64 million) for cutting off mobile and Internet services during January protests, a court source said.
    This was the first court ruling to be made against Mubarak since he was ousted on Feb. 11. Mubarak faces more serious charges, including ordering the killing of protestors, a charge which could carry the death penalty.

Israel's Unemployment Rate Drops to Six Percent - Gad Lior (Ynet News)
    The Central Bureau of Statistics reported that Israel's unemployment rate had dropped to 6% compared to 7% in the beginning of 2010.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Palestinian State Requires UN Security Council Support
    The president of the UN General Assembly said Friday there is no way that a Palestinian state could become a UN member without a recommendation from the Security Council. Joseph Deiss told a news conference that if the U.S. or any other permanent council member used its veto, the General Assembly would not be able to vote on membership for Palestine. President Obama said last weekend that no vote at the UN would ever create a Palestinian state, a strong indication that the U.S. would veto such a resolution.
        Deiss, a former president of the Swiss Confederation, said the requirements for UN membership are clearly stated in the UN Charter: A state has to state its adherence to the Charter, the 15-member Security Council must then make a recommendation that requires nine "yes" votes and no veto by a permanent member, and only then can the General Assembly vote on membership, which must be approved by a two-thirds majority. (AP)
  • Canada Blocks Mention of 1967 Line by G8 Summit - Luke Baker and David Ljunggren
    Group of Eight leaders had to soften a statement urging Israel and the Palestinians to return to negotiations because Canada objected to a specific mention of 1967 borders, diplomats said Friday. "The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week," one European diplomat said. The G8 communique said: "Negotiations are the only way toward a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict."  (Reuters)
        See also Israel Thanks Canada for Pro-Israel Stance at G8 - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
  • UN Peacekeepers Targeted in Lebanon - Liz Sly
    Six Italian UN peacekeepers were injured when a bomb struck their convoy in southern Lebanon on Friday. There was no assertion of responsibility for the bombing, which targeted a logistics convoy traveling on a highway outside Sidon. (Washington Post)
        See also Italy Seeks to Trim Peacekeeping Unit - Mohammad Zaatari
    Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa told La Repubblica that while Italy "has no intention of abandoning Lebanon," he wanted to cut Rome's contribution to the UN force by more than a third. "At the moment we have 1,780 soldiers, but it's too many." Sources said the soldiers in the convoy of four vehicles were not wearing protective helmets or vests and the vehicles were not armored. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
        See also Report: Syria Involved in Lebanon UNIFIL Bombing
    Diplomatic sources on Saturday suggested Syria was involved in the roadside bomb that blew up a UN vehicle on Friday. The Lebanese daily An Nahar reported that the blast came after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem threatened the EU that it would regret sanctions imposed on President Assad and other top Syrian officials. "I say this measure, just as it will harm Syria's interests, it will harm Europe's interest. And Syria won't remain silent about this measure," Muallem declared last week. (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Warns Egypt Losing Control of Growing Terror Groups in Sinai - Jonathan Lis and Jack Khoury
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Egypt's new military government was having a "hard time" controlling the rise of international terror organizations in the Sinai Peninsula. "International terror organizations are stirring in Sinai and their presence is increasing due to Sinai's connection to Gaza." "Hamas is strengthening in Egypt," Netanyahu added. "It transferred more of its activities to Egypt and less to Syria due to the turmoil there."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Report: 400 Al-Qaeda Members in Egyptian Sinai
    Over 400 al-Qaeda members have made their way into the Sinai Peninsula, a senior Egyptian security official told the Al-Hayyat satellite television station on Monday. Egyptian security officials were pursuing the terrorists, who include Palestinians, Bedouins and foreign Arab citizens. The group was reportedly planning to carry out terror attacks in Egypt, and had carried out "a number of attacks against [Egyptian] security forces in the Sinai city of El Arish," an official told Al-Hayyat. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Experts Analyze Opening of Gaza-Egypt Crossing - Boaz Fyler
    Some security experts and academics are convinced the opening of the Rafah border crossing on Saturday has some positive aspects. "If Egypt opens the crossing, Israel will supposedly no longer be responsible for supplying Gaza's daily needs and Egypt will become the official gateway," explained Ido Zelkovitz, an expert on Palestinian society and politics at Haifa University.
        Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, former National Security Council head, says that the opening of the crossing serves Israel's interests and should not be opposed. He added: "Claiming that opening the border would cause weapons smuggling is utter nonsense as Egypt effectively decides what goes in and out. And therefore if smuggling is being allowed now, an open border will not change that."  (Ynet News)
        See also For Israel, the Silver Lining in Gaza: Shifting the Strip to Egypt - Karl Vick
    The "official" opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza this weekend by Mubarak's successors, impeding the passage only of men of military age, was met in some Israeli circles with "quiet satisfaction." In Jerusalem the feeling is: If the Egyptians want to take responsibility for 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, more power to them. Cairo after all had control of the coastal enclave from 1948 to 1967. (TIME)
  • Peres to UN: Don't Mislead Palestinians - Omri Efraim
    President Shimon Peres told deputy UN secretary-general Asha-Rose Migiro Sunday that the UN was misleading the Palestinians by allowing them to believe that a Palestinian state could be declared without first providing for Israel's security needs. The only way to establish such a state is through direct negotiations, Peres said. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Canada Stands Firm on Mideast Plan - Editorial
    Thankfully there was at least one G8 leader - Prime Minister Stephen Harper - who made a public point of reiterating to Obama what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him last week - that Israel would not only be vulnerable but undefendable if it returned to the borders occupied prior to 1967's Six-Day War. It is terribly sad that Netanyahu, and now Harper, had to educate Obama that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in bed with Hamas, and Israel would not negotiate with a state "backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaeda." Without the demilitarization of Palestine and the neutering of Hamas, there can never be an official Palestinian state - even if the UN General Assembly and some equally misguided G8 leaders think otherwise. (Toronto Sun-Canada)
  • Palestinian Statehood Cannot Be Realized at the Cost of Jewish Statehood - David Horovitz
    Recently, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Palestinian Arabs who had left Israel while the Arab world tried to murder our state at birth, attempted a symbolic "return," with varying degrees of success, across the Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian and Egyptian borders, and from the West Bank and Gaza. They were warmly praised in this effort by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the ostensibly moderate successor to Yasser Arafat with whom Israel has been trying for almost eight years to make peace.
        The Nakba onslaught against sovereign Israel, and its moving endorsement by Israel's putative Palestinian partner, was the latest bleak demonstration of the Palestinians' insistent refusal, for close to two-thirds of a century, to internalize the fact that the Jews have a historic claim to this sliver of land, and that their demands for statehood cannot be realized at the cost of ours.
        It is immensely troubling for many Israelis to recognize that our most important strategic partner is now publicly advocating, before any significant sign of Palestinian compromise on final status issues has been detected, that we withdraw, more or less, to the pre-1967 lines - the so-called "Auschwitz borders" - from which we were relentlessly attacked in our first two fragile decades of statehood. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ahmadinejad versus Khamenei: The Revolutionary Guards Win - Ali Alfoneh
    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad risks impeachment following his failed attempt to wrest control over the Intelligence Ministry from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) supported Khamenei to reinstate the intelligence minister and restrict Ahmadinejad's power. Whether Ahmadinejad is impeached or not, the latest conflict among the civilian leaders has made the IRGC the most important arbiter of power in the Islamic Republic. (American Enterprise Institute)

Video: 1967 Lines Were Never a Border - Dore Gold (Fox News)

Israel's former UN ambassador Dore Gold told Fox News in an interview on May 27:

  • "I think the prime minister laid out something very fundamental and very important for the future of any talks. There's an expectation that Israel withdraws to the 1967 lines, which were never a border for the State of Israel. They were where armies had stopped in an earlier war when Israel had been invaded. What the prime minister said is that those lines were indefensible and therefore Israel needs defensible borders, and in any future talks, that will be one of the points that Israel will insist on."
  • "In 2004 the State of Israel received a presidential letter that was confirmed by both houses of Congress, saying that Israel would not be expected to fully withdraw to the 1949 armistice line - that's the technical name of the 1967 line. George Shultz, who was secretary of state of Ronald Reagan, said that Israel would never withdraw to the 1967 lines. So it hasn't always been a reference term. I think President Obama introduced some wiggle room in terms of what the expectation is of Israel with reference to that line."
  • "He mentioned 'land swaps.' The Palestinians see a land swap as representing a very small amount of territory. We need defensible borders - the Jordan Valley - that great barrier that protects Israel either from a conventional attack or from massive infiltration by al-Qaeda and other forces from the east. That is how we've kept Israel secure for over 40 years. And therefore that kind of deployment, that kind of presence, is what we are going to need in the future."
  • "Put yourself in the position of an Israeli prime minister. You look around at the Middle East and you don't know if the countries around you will even be there in five years or in three years. Will the governments be changed? Will we have more radical regimes? What is going to happen to Iraq after the U.S. army leaves? Will it become an Iranian satellite? And therefore, all the more so, Israel needs defensible borders."
  • "We can make peace. But peace is based on compromise, compromise in which you protect your vital interests. Our vital interests are in Jerusalem and in keeping those borders that will allow us to protect ourselves."

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