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Former Mossad Chief: Regime Change in Syria Would Harm Hizbullah - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan said Tuesday that Sunnis may replace the current Alawite regime in Syria.
"They may not be lovers of Israel, but there is no doubt this would harm Hizbullah, weaken it, harm the strategic backing it receives from Syria, minimize the Iranian influence in the field, increase influence by Saudi Arabia and Gulf States on it, and increase chances it will open up to the West," Dagan said.
Israel to Let Construction Materials into Gaza for Schools, Homes - Ari Rabinovitch and Alistair Lyon (Reuters)
Guy Inbar, an IDF military spokesman, said Tuesday that Israel had given the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) the green light to bring building materials for 18 new schools and 1,200 new houses into Gaza.
UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry said, "I welcome this significant step."
One foreign diplomat suggested that the approval may have been an Israeli attempt to help undercut the rationale for sending another flotilla.
Israel Asks Apple to Remove "3rd Intifada" Application - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein sent a letter Tuesday to Apple CEO Steve Jobs requesting the removal of an application called the "3rd Intifada" that gives information about protest activities, some of them violent, planned against Israel.
The same organization, Edelstein wrote, opened a Facebook page three months ago "calling for an uprising against the State of Israel by use of lethal force, while using hateful material based on wild and groundless accusations."
Facebook removed the page after it became convinced of the page's "harmful nature" and its potential of leading to the loss of life.
How Did They Fall for It? - Eoin O'Carroll
(Christian Science Monitor)
The BBC, Agence France Presse, and Time magazine all erroneously reported that a rabbinical court in Jerusalem had sentenced a dog to death by stoning.
The Western news outlets all got the story from Ynet, the website for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.
Ynet's story says that the head of the court denied that such an incident had taken place, a detail left out of the Western media stories. The paper also noted that there was no official ruling.
See also Jewish Dog Wags International Media's Tail - Carmel Gould (Ha'aretz)
Correction: Jonathan Pollard pleaded guilty and was not convicted - as AP incorrectly reported in an excerpt appearing on Tuesday in Daily Alert.
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- U.S.-Saudi Rivalry Intensifies - Paul Richter and Neela Banerjee
Senior U.S. diplomats have been dropping by the royal palace in Amman almost every week to convince Jordanian King Abdullah II that democratic reform is the best way to quell the protests against his rule. But
Saudi Arabia is urging the Hashemite kingdom to ignore the Americans.
The Saudis last month offered Jordan a coveted opportunity to join a wealthy regional bloc called the Gulf Cooperation Council, a move that would give the impoverished kingdom new investment, jobs and security ties. To sweeten the pot, the Saudis wrote a check for $400 million in aid to Amman two weeks ago, their first assistance in years. The quiet contest for Jordan is one sign of the rivalry that has erupted across the Middle East this year between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
Riyadh, which believes the U.S. is turning its back on loyal allies, is trying to step out of America's shadow. The Saudis, who see their own stability threatened in the region's unrest, have shelled out billions of dollars to neighbors in Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and elsewhere in hopes they will resist political change.
(Los Angeles Times)
- Saudi Suggests "Squeezing" Iran over Nuclear Ambitions - Jay Solomon
A leading member of Saudi Arabia's royal family warned that Riyadh could seek to supplant Iran's oil exports if the country doesn't constrain its nuclear program, a move that could hobble Tehran's finances. "Iran is very vulnerable in the oil sector, and it is there that more could be done to squeeze the current government," said Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal in closed-door remarks earlier this month. "Saudi Arabia has so much [spare] production capacity - nearly 4 million barrels [per] day - that we could almost instantly replace all of Iran's oil production," the prince said.
He also strongly implied that Riyadh would be forced to follow suit if Tehran pushed ahead to develop nuclear weapons and said Saudi Arabia is preparing to employ all of its economic, diplomatic and security assets to confront Tehran's regional ambitions.
"Saudi Arabia will oppose any and all of Iran's actions in other countries because it is Saudi Arabia's position that Iran has no right to meddle in other nations' internal affairs," he said. In recent weeks, Riyadh has pressured members of OPEC to increase production as a way to tamp down global oil prices, a move Iran has strongly opposed. OPEC officials in Vienna split into two blocs - one led by Riyadh and the other Tehran.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Israeli Prime Minister Sends Letter of Congratulations to Turkey's Erdogan - Fulya Ozerkan
Israel's prime minister has congratulated his Turkish counterpart in another sign of Israel's desire to normalize ties with Ankara following the Turkish IHH relief group's cancellation of plans to participate in another Gaza aid flotilla.
"My government will be happy to work with the new Turkish government on finding a resolution to all outstanding issues between our countries in the hope of re-establishing our cooperation and renewing the spirit of friendship which has characterized the relations between our peoples for many generations," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a letter to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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- Iran Helping Syria Quash Demonstrations; Organized Demonstrations Against Israel - Avi Issacharoff
A senior Israeli source says Iran is involved in the suppressing of the anti-regime demonstrations in Syria. Iran's Revolutionary Guard and the Al-Quds force, commanded by Gen. Qassem Suleimani, are operating throughout Syria.
Iran has also supplied equipment to the Syrian army, including sniper rifles and communications systems for disrupting the Internet.
The Revolutionary Guard organized the demonstrations against Israel on the Golan Heights as part of the events on Nakba Day on May 15 and Naksa Day on June 5. "The Revolutionary Guard organized the busing that was required to transfer the demonstrators to the border. The initiative was not Syrian. However, the Syrian army approved the transfer of the buses to the border. On Nakba Day they [the Iranians] were also involved in the demonstrations in Lebanon," the source said.
"The background to the riots that broke out in the Yarmuk refugee camp the day after the demonstrations on the Golan Heights was largely the failure to pay the money that had been promised to the participants: $1,000 for each participant and $10,000 for anyone who became a 'martyr' - killed in the demonstrations," the source said. "Hundreds took part in the demonstration because they had not been paid." The source said the likelihood of similar demonstrations on the Israel-Syria border in the near future is low.
The source believes the process that will end the Assad regime is irreversible.
"In the end, certain senior officers in the Syrian army - Sunnis - will reach an agreement with senior Alawi officers, providing sufficient security guarantees for the Alawi community. They will find a political solution that will extricate the country from the crisis and remove President Bashar Assad from power."
See also The Revolt at Yarmuk Refugee Camp in Syria - Zvi Mazel
Among the Palestinians killed trying to storm the Golan Heights on June 3, nine were from the Yarmuk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus. As news started trickling in about the number of dead and wounded, people in the camp suddenly understood that they had been duped by Syrian leader Bashar Assad, who had chosen to buy with Palestinian blood an operation intended to draw attention away from his brutal handling of the country's crisis.
An estimated 100,000 Palestinians took part in the mass funerals, chanting slogans against the Syrian president.
When Ahmed Jibril, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), headquartered in Damascus, tried to make a speech praising Assad and blaming Israel for the deaths, his voice was drowned by protests.
Soon the protest turned more violent, and protesters vented their anger on the PFLP-GC's headquarters, setting the place on fire. Two guards were killed in the onslaught; Jibril's security officers opened fire, killing 14 protesters and wounding hundreds.
The violent protests probably explain why Assad did not send more people to the Golan the following day and why his army restored the roadblocks on the road leading to it.
The writer is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden, and a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
- Digging for Jerusalem's Jewish Roots - Jonathan S. Tobin
One of the consistent themes sounded by Palestinian political leaders and their official media is their contention that Jewish roots in Jerusalem and throughout the historic Land of Israel is a myth. It is in this light the unveiling of a new site showcasing the most complete excavations from the First Temple Period in Jerusalem ought to be celebrated. These findings are a standing rebuke to those who refer to parts of Israel's capital as "traditionally Palestinian." All you need to confirm Jerusalem's Jewish roots is to start digging.
See also First Temple Period Archeological Site Unveiled in Jerusalem - Melanie Lidman
A large complex of ruins from the First Temple period called the Ophel City Walls site was inaugurated on Tuesday in the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park, showcasing one of the most complete excavations from the First Temple period and the area believed to be the Water Gate mentioned in the Bible.
The site, which was uncovered by Hebrew University's Dr. Eilat Mazar, contains ritual baths, store rooms, a watchtower, and royal buildings, where archeologists found dozens of large clay pots of various sizes. Mazar believes the site includes remnants of the walls built by King Solomon. Avi Mashiah, a conservation expert with the Antiquities Authority, noted that some of the pots and stones were still blackened from the fires set in the destruction of the First Temple (586 BCE).
- The Palestinian Economic Mirage - Barry Rubin
The Palestinian economy is a mirage floating on a sea of massive foreign donations.
It is still riddled by incompetence, inefficiency and corruption. If you turn it into a state, that doesn't miraculously solve economic problems.
It just creates a fragile state that will depend on anti-Israel demagoguery, tolerate cross-border raids into Israel, rely on infusions of pro-Islamist money (from Iran, Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood), and possibly welcome a takeover by Hamas.
Not Stealing Palestine, But Purchasing Israel - Daniel Pipes (National Review)
Since the early Zionists lacked military power, their efforts to build a presence in the Holy Land stand out as astonishingly mild.
- Acquiring property dunam by dunam, farm by farm, house by house, lay at the heart of the Zionist enterprise. They also focused on the rehabilitation of what was barren and considered unusable. They not only made the desert bloom, but drained swamps, cleared water channels, reclaimed wasteland, forested bare hills, cleared rocks, and removed salt from the soil.
- This history contradicts the Palestinian account that "Zionist gangs stole Palestine and expelled its people."
- Israelis should hold their heads high and point out that the building of their country was based on the least violent and most civilized movement of any people in history.
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