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Britain Accuses Iran of Secretly Testing Nuclear-Capable Missiles (VOA News)
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament on Wednesday that Iran has conducted secret tests of ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Hague said secret Iranian tests of nuclear-capable missiles contravene UN Security Council Resolution 1929.
He also accused Iran of engaging in covert experiments with rocket launchers.
Saudis Will Build Nuclear Weapons If Iran Gets Them - Jason Burke (Guardian-UK)
Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington, warned senior NATO military officials earlier this month that if Iran comes close to developing a nuclear weapon,
the existence of such a device "would compel Saudi Arabia...to pursue policies which could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences."
A senior official in Riyadh who is close to the prince said on Tuesday,
"We cannot live in a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and we don't....If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit."
See also Saudi Forces Withdrawing from Bahrain - Nada Bakri (New York Times)
Saudi Arabia will withdraw most of its 1,200 troops from neighboring Bahrain by next week after a three-month mission to quell an uprising against the monarchy there, a Saudi official said on Tuesday.
Syria Tank Assault Kills 11 Near Turkish Border - Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters)
Syrian troops shot dead 11 villagers on Wednesday in Jabal al-Zawya, residents said, as authorities pressed on with a tank-led assault that has driven thousands of refugees across the border with Turkey.
1,000 Injured as Protesters, Police Clash in Cairo - Leila Fadel, Muhammad Mansour and William Branigin (Washington Post)
Protesters clashed with Egyptian security forces for a second day Wednesday over the pace of police brutality prosecutions and other grievances, after more than 1,000 people were injured
in clashes which erupted outside the Interior Ministry on Tuesday.
Riot police used tear gas, rubber bullets and birdshot to defend the Interior Ministry, which oversees the Egyptian police, from protesters who attacked with rocks and gasoline bombs.
Hardline Arab-Israeli Imam Held in Britain - Joseph Eid (AFP)
Controversial Arab-Israeli Islamist leader Sheikh Raed Saleh has been arrested in London after entering Britain in defiance of a government ban, Home Secretary Theresa May said Wednesday.
British authorities have begun arrangements to deport Saleh, who is the head of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement, and have launched an investigation into how he managed to enter the country, she said.
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- U.S. Senate Opposes Unilateral Declaration of Palestinian Statehood
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday that threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if it continues to seek a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.
The resolution also reaffirmed U.S. opposition to any Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless the group renounces terrorism and is willing to make peace with Israel. Led by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the resolution had 88 co-sponsors.
"The Senate has delivered a clear message to the international community that United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state at this time does not further the peace process," Cardin said. "A permanent and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations." A similar measure is under consideration in the House of Representatives.
See also below Observations: Resolution Reaffirming the U.S. Commitment to a Negotiated Settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (U.S. Senate)
- U.S. to Resume Formal Muslim Brotherhood Contacts - Arshad Mohammed
The U.S. has decided to resume formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday. "It is in our interests to engage with all of the parties that are competing for parliament or the presidency," said the senior official.
There is no U.S. legal prohibition against dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is not regarded by Washington as a foreign terrorist organization.
But other sympathetic groups, such as Hamas, which identifies the Brotherhood as its spiritual guide, have not disavowed violence against Israel.
Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser handling Middle East affairs under former President George W. Bush, said he favored dropping the ban on formal contacts - but approaching any actual dealings with great caution.
Abrams said positions espoused by some Brotherhood members - such as favoring religious tests for public office, questioning the rights of women and limiting freedom of religion or speech - were "anathema" to the U.S. Noting that there are splits among Brotherhood members, Abrams said,
"We have to think about whether we can use meetings to deepen those splits and to help, quietly, those who are trying to moderate the positions of the Brotherhood."
See also Egypt's Pro-Democracy Activists Feel Their Grip Slipping - Jeffrey Fleishman
Sensing the revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak is slipping from their grasp, activists and opposition groups are pressuring the ruling military council to postpone Egypt's elections in September amid fears that Islamists and members of the former regime will gain too much power.
This coincides with a renewed push to draft a new constitution before the parliamentary elections so that no political bloc, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, will have unchecked influence to set the laws of the land.
(Los Angeles Times)
- U.S. Lawmakers Say Americans in Gaza Flotilla May Be Prosecuted - Calev Ben-David
Two members of Congress said U.S. citizens who join a flotilla planning to break Israel's embargo of Gaza should face prosecution.
"Israel's blockade of terrorist territory is absolutely legal," Congressman Gary Ackerman said during a visit to Jerusalem Tuesday with a fellow Democratic representative from New York, Nita Lowey. "And the people who would run an international legal blockade are subject to the legal ramifications of all countries, including the United States."
Americans taking part in the flotilla may "violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes" against "conspiring to deliver material support" to terrorist organizations, the State Department said last week. Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the EU. (Bloomberg)
See also Texas Governor Urges U.S. Attorney General to Act Against American Pro-Palestinian Flotilla Protesters (AP-Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Seeks Deal with Europe, U.S. on Palestinian Statehood Bid - Attila Somfalvi
Government sources on Wednesday confirmed that Israeli and American officials are continuing their efforts to jump-start negotiations with the Palestinians, while Jerusalem is hoping to secure France and Britain's objection at a UN vote on the declaration of a Palestinian state.
Germany and Italy have already announced that they will object to a unilateral declaration of statehood.
- Report: Jordan to Oppose PA Statehood Bid - Roee Nahmias
A senior Jordanian official says the Hashemite kingdom will vote against a Palestinian statehood bid scheduled to be put before the UN General Assembly in September. "Jordan's top national interests will be in danger if the Palestinian Authority declares statehood unilaterally - especially in everything related to the issue of refugees, water, Jerusalem, and the borders," the UAE-based al-Bayan quoted a Jordanian state official as saying. The report says Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit publicly expressed this opinion in a speech two months ago. (Ynet News)
- Israel Hopes Gaza Flotilla Delay Will Reduce Participation - Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz
Bureaucratic delays, strikes at Greek ports and damaged ships continue to delay the Gaza-bound flotilla, which was originally scheduled to set sail at mid-week.
Huwaida Arraf, one of the heads of the Free Gaza Movement, said Wednesday that the flotilla will likely not set sail for a number of days.
- Video: Gaza Receives Thousands of Tons of Goods and Materials Daily
Despite the naval blockade on Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces ensures the daily transfer of nearly 6,000 tons of goods and roughly 260 truckloads via Kerem Shalom, an Israel-Gaza land crossing.
Lawfully enforcing the naval blockade on Gaza allows the Israeli Navy to limit rocket and missile attacks into Israel by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations.
(Israel Defense Forces)
- Who Is Behind the Second Gaza Flotilla? - Ehud Rosen
The second flotilla is coordinated by Muhammad Sawalha, a senior UK-based Muslim Brotherhood figure connected to Hamas. Many of the participating organizations can be directly linked with the Union of Good (UoG), a coalition of European charities affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which in 2008 was designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury for transferring funds to Hamas. The UoG was initiated by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood on a global scale, in 2000.
Other main organizers include the anti-Israel International Solidarity Movement (ISM), as well as far-left socialists from Europe and the U.S. Many of the flotilla's main organizers have stated that its prime aim is to create provocations and harm Israel's image.
Thus, far from being a peaceful, humanitarian effort to support the Palestinians in Gaza, the flotilla should be seen as a major, pro-Hamas effort to delegitimize Israel by a "red-green alliance" of leftists and Islamists.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Assad Deserves a Swift Trip to The Hague - Madeleine Albright and Marwan Muasher
It is time for the international community to take a stand against Syria's use of violence against its citizens.
The UN Security Council should direct
the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is guilty of crimes against humanity. Initiating an ICC investigation in Syria now would create a powerful incentive for Mr. Assad to choose reform over further repression.
Madeleine Albright was U.S. secretary of state from 1997 to 2001. Marwan Muasher was foreign minister of Jordan from 2002 to 2004.
Resolution Reaffirming the U.S. Commitment to a Negotiated Settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (U.S. Senate)
Excerpts from S. Res. 185, approved by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday:
Whereas a true and lasting peace between the people of Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties;
- Whereas Hamas, an organization responsible for the death of more than 500 innocent civilians, including two dozen United States citizens, has been designated by the United States Government as a foreign terrorist organization;
- Whereas, on April 22, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, "We will not deal with nor in any way fund a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless and until Hamas has renounced violence, recognized Israel and agreed to follow the previous obligations of the Palestinian Authority."
- Therefore, be it Resolved, that the Senate--
- Reaffirms its strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states, a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a viable, democratic Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition;
- Reiterates its strong opposition to any attempt to establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between leaders in Israel and the Palestinians;
- Calls upon the President to announce that the United States will veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes before the United Nations Security Council which is not a result of agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestinians;
- Will consider restrictions on aid to the Palestinian Authority should it persist in efforts to circumvent direct negotiations by turning to the United Nations or other international bodies.
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