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Israel and Turkey Holding Secret Direct Talks to Mend Diplomatic Rift - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
Israeli and Turkish officials have been holding secret direct talks to try to solve the diplomatic crisis between the two countries, a senior official in Jerusalem said. The negotiations are receiving American support.
Senior Jerusalem officials say Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan could not display flexibility in Turkey's demands of Israel before the Turkish elections last week. But after winning the election, Erdogan is likely to take a more pragmatic stance, they say.
After the Turkish elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel had no desire to continue a tense relationship with Turkey and would be happy to improve the situation.
Pollard Not Allowed to Attend Father's Funeral Despite Israeli Requests - Tom Coyne (AP)
Former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard, convicted in 1987 of spying for Israel, was not permitted to attend his father's funeral in Indiana on Monday, despite requests from Israeli officials that he be allowed out of prison to pay his respects.
Nearly two-thirds of the members of Israel's parliament had signed a petition calling for Pollard to be allowed to attend the funeral. Dozens rallied for Pollard in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
Pollard is scheduled for release in 2015, according to a U.S. Justice Department website.
Israel's New UN Ambassador Briefs Jewish Leaders - Shlomo Shamir (Ha'aretz)
Israel's new ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, briefed American Jewish leaders on Monday during a meeting with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York.
Prosor said that regardless of the outcome of the UN vote in September, a Palestinian state will not be created and added that the UN is not authorized to dictate borders between countries.
Israel Returned Nuclear Waste to U.S. - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
Israel has returned nuclear waste from its Sorek nuclear reactor to the U.S., the head of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. Shaul Horev, revealed Monday.
Israel and the U.S. signed an agreement for the return of the waste a year and a half ago. An American ship collected nuclear waste from both Israel and Turkey.
The Sorek research reactor is a small, five-megawatt facility donated to Israel by the U.S. under former President Eisenhower.
The waste transfer took place under a U.S. government program meant to stop nuclear waste from falling into the hands of terrorist organizations.
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- Assadís Speech May Have Made Things Worse in Syria - Peter Goodspeed
Under mounting international pressure and facing growing street protests, Bashar al-Assad spoke to Syrians for the first time in two months Monday and blamed "saboteurs" backed by foreign powers for widespread unrest. He offered no new concessions to protesters and made only vague reference to possible reforms. Rather than ease tensions, the Syrian President's speech may have made matters worse by deepening the crisis and reinforcing protesters' resolve, James Dorsey, a researcher at Singapore's Middle East Institute, wrote Monday in a blog for Al-Arabiya television.
See also Is Syria's Assad Cracking? - Max Fisher
Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad on Monday used the word "freedom" once, "conspiracy" eight times, and "vandals" - his favorite expressions for the protesters - 18 times. But what is significant about Assad's speech is that it happened at all. His speech may be, like the other Arab dictator speeches that came before his, a desperate last-ditch effort to save an ailing regime.
The sudden and severe economic downturn will exacerbate protests, and ultimately limit Assad's ability to pay military and security forces.
See also Assad's Speech May Buy Time, But Not Survival - Nicholas Blanford (Christian Science Monitor)
- Ahmadinejadís Inner Circle Under Pressure - Thomas Erdbrink
A growing confrontation between Iran's clerical rulers and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is spilling over to unusually direct criticism of the president's inner circle of advisers. Hard-line ayatollahs and representatives of the Revolutionary Guard Corps who were instrumental in bringing Ahmadinejad to power in 2005 now accuse his top aides of plotting to push Shiite clerics from politics.
Ahmadinejad's advisers represent "the most dangerous current in the history of Shiite Islam," said Mojtaba Zolnour, a leading cleric in the Revolutionary Guard forces. Iran's judiciary said this month that at least a dozen people connected to the president had been arrested since April.
- U.S. Indicts Firms for Helping Iran Evade Sanctions
U.S. prosecutors took aim at the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), Iran's main state shipping line, on Monday, indicting several firms and individuals for helping the blacklisted firm's weapons proliferation activities by falsifying bank records.
The Manhattan District Attorney accused eleven corporations and five Iranian nationals of conspiring to repeatedly falsify records of New York banks, which allowed IRISL to illegally use the services of the U.S. financial institutions, according to court documents.
"The persistent attempts by IRISL to deceive the world, including through the front companies identified today, attest to the weakness of IRISL as it tries to maintain a semblance of legitimacy while supporting Iran's nuclear proliferation activities," the Treasury's top sanctions official, Adam Szubin, said.
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- U.S.: Israeli Missile Defense System Can Protect Our Mideast Bases - Anshel Pfeffer
Israel's missile defense system will be integrated into a regional defense array planned by the U.S., Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, said Monday in an interview published in the American Defense News journal. Israeli missile batteries may also protect Arab countries who are allies of the U.S. but with which Israel has no diplomatic ties.
O'Reilly said that the multi-layered defense system being developed by Israel - comprised of Iron Dome and Magic Wand systems on the lower levels and Arrow 2 and 3 systems on the atmospheric level and above - will strengthen the ability of the U.S. to protect its forces in the Middle East. Israel is the only country today employing operational missile systems that are capable of intercepting rockets and missiles of different sizes and ranges.
- Muslim States Call on Hamas to Recognize Quartet Terms - Lahav Harkov
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean called on Monday for Hamas to accept the Quartet's three conditions: renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel, and accepting the agreements signed in the past by Israel and the PLO.
Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Majallie Whbee (Kadima) said that all of the countries attending the meeting in Croatia, including Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, as well as the Palestinian Authority, voted in favor of the resolution. The assembly also called for a return to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
"This is the first time, after 17 assembly meetings, that Israel is not the central topic and is not attacked from all sides," said Whbee.
"When the Arab world is busy with itself - regime change and violent civilian protests - democratic Israel is popular and sought after," he added. (Jerusalem Post)
- Europe's Mideast Muddle - Daniel Schwammenthal
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' effort to seek UN recognition for a unilaterally declared state would far more likely end the peace process than the conflict. European leaders might back a unilateral Palestinian move because they are "frustrated" with the stalled Middle East peace process, diplomats explain. But Europe's particular frustration in this case - directed mainly at Israel - ignores that the Palestinians have refused direct talks for more than two years, after they rejected three Israeli peace offers in the previous decade.
A UN General Assembly vote might give the Palestinians a quick propaganda victory, but not an independent state. Israel isn't going to simply pack up and accept a one-sided imposition of borders or principles that ignore the country's legitimate security concerns. The Palestinians will gain real sovereignty only through peace talks with Israel. The writer is director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute, based in Brussels.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Salam Fayyad: No Savior - Nathan J. Brown
With Fatah and Hamas striving to form a unity government, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad may very well be sacrificed on the altar of Palestinian unity.
Fayyad assumed control of a Palestinian Authority that was unable to pay all of its salaries, deeply mistrusted by Israel, and treated as irrelevant by many Palestinians. His first and most impressive accomplishment was to gain the trust of Western governments, which allowed him to attract enormous amounts of aid.
But Fayyadism was a political house of cards. There was no domestic foundation for Fayyad's efforts; for Palestinians, he was simply an unsolicited gift from the U.S. and Europe. His poll numbers did not translate into any kind of political party that could have run in, much less won, an election - if one were ever held. It is a paradoxical and erroneous assumption that the best way to build Palestinian institutions is to rely on a specific, virtuous individual.
The writer is a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
- Is Jordan's King Losing Control over the Bedouin? - Mudar Zahran
The Bedouin have controlled the Jordanian army and the security agencies since the establishment of Hashemite rule in 1921. They receive massive benefits from the Jordanian state, such as free university education, exemption from most taxes, and generous land grants. This has left the Palestinian majority in the country somewhat miffed at the regime, and willing to replace it.
Recently there have been signs that the Bedouin are no longer loyal to the Hashemites; they are seeking to rule Jordan on their own. On June 13, King Abdullah's motorcade was attacked by the local Bedouin in the southern city of Tafillah. The Bedouin have demanded a constitutional monarchy and a return to the 1920 agreement with Jordanian tribes, according to which King Abdullah's grandfather, Abdullah I, agreed to rule the country jointly with the Bedouin.
(Hudson Institute-New York)
"Land Swaps" and the 1967 Lines - Dore Gold (Weekly Standard)
- When President Obama first made his controversial reference to the 1967 lines as the basis for future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, he introduced the idea that there would be "mutually agreed swaps" of land between the two sides.
Yet neither UN Security Council Resolution 242 nor any subsequent signed agreements with the Palestinians stipulated that Israel would have to pay for any West Bank land it would retain by handing over its own sovereign land in exchange.
- So where did the idea of land swaps come from? During the mid-1990s, Israeli academics involved in backchannel talks accepted the principle that the Palestinians would obtain 100% of the territory, just like Egypt received 100% of the Sinai Peninsula, and they proposed giving Israeli land to the Palestinians as compensation for any West Bank land retained by Israel.
- In July 2000 at the Camp David Summit, the Clinton administration raised the land swap idea that had been proposed by Israeli academics, but after the collapse of the Camp David talks, President Clinton stipulated: "These are my ideas. If they are not accepted, they are off the table, they go with me when I leave office."
- Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resurrected the land swap idea in 2008 as part of newly proposed Israeli concessions. However, the Palestinians said they would demand land swaps of "comparable value" - meaning, they would not accept some remote sand dunes in exchange for high quality land near the center of Israel. Given the limitations on the quantity and quality of territory that Israel could conceivably offer, the land swap idea was emerging as impractical.
- What is the standing of ideas from failed negotiations in the past that appear in the diplomatic record? Just because an idea was discussed in the past, does that make it part of the diplomatic agenda in the future, even if the idea was never part of any legally binding, signed agreements?
The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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