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New U.S. Terror Report Warns of Insider Threat to Utilities - Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, and Megan Chuchmach (ABC News)
Sabotage by an insider at a major utility facility, including a chemical or oil refinery, could provide al-Qaeda with its best opportunity for the kind of massive Sept. 11 anniversary attack Osama bin Laden was planning, according to U.S. officials.
A new intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security issued Tuesday, titled "Insider Threat to Utilities," warns "violent extremists have, in fact, obtained insider positions," and that "outsiders have attempted to solicit utility-sector employees" for damaging physical and cyber attacks.
U.S. Retirement Giant TIAA-CREF Rejects Bid to Boycott Israel (New York Jewish Week)
Officials of TIAA-CREF, which manages pension funds for teachers and other non-profit employees, rejected demands from activists Tuesday to boycott companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
CEO Roger Ferguson told the annual shareholders' meeting in Charlotte, N.C.: "This is not something in which we're going to engage."
Evangelical Christians Gather to Lend Support to Israel - Bryan Yurcan (Christian Post)
More than 5,000 Christians, many evangelical, gathered in Washington, D.C., this week for the annual conference of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).
Netanyahu addressed the conference via satellite, noting that the values of the U.S. and Israel are the same.
"Our enemies think that we are you, and that you are us," said Netanyahu. "And you know something? They are absolutely right."
Turkey Building Hospital in Gaza - Yusuf Acar and Abdurrahman Itik (Zaman-Turkey)
The Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) is building a 150-bed hospital in Gaza.
Mehmet Cahit Ababay, project coordinator at Aker Construction, said on Tuesday the construction project is a matter of national pride. "When the hospital is finally built, everyone will say Turkey and the Turks built it."
Biggest Mall in Gaza Opens Its Doors - Nasser Najjar (Gulf News-UAE)
The Al Andalusia Mall, the biggest mall in Gaza, opened its doors on Tuesday.
Ihab Al Isawia, a mall investor, said: "The mall is built on 3,000 square meters and has 14 departments providing goods and services." There is even a swimming pool and a cinema.
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- In Scarred Syria City, a Vision of a Life Free from Dictators - Anthony Shadid
The revolt against President Bashar al-Assad has begun to help Syrians imagine life after dictatorship as they forge new leaders and organize their own defense. In Hama, Syria's fourth largest city, dozens of barricades of trash bins, street lamps, bulldozers and sandbags, defended in various states of vigilance, block the feared return of the security forces that surprisingly withdrew last month. Protests begin past midnight, drawing raucous crowds of youths celebrating the simple fact that they can protest. "Hama is free," the protesters chant, "and it will remain free."
In 1982, under the orders of Hafez al-Assad, the Syrian Army brutally quelled a revolt in Hama. During three weeks of fighting, planes bombed Hama's historic quarter, and tanks plowed through narrow streets. Mass executions were routine, as was torture visited on survivors. (New York Times)
See also A Western Photographer in Hama, Syria - James Estrin and David Furst (New York Times)
- PA Financial Crisis Causing Public Concern - Maher Abukhater
The Palestinian Union of Public Employees warned the Palestinian Authority on Monday that it may call a general strike if the PA fails to come up with a plan by July 26 on how it intends to pay salaries, without interruption, to more than 150,000 civil and military personnel. In
June, the PA paid only half of the salaries. Three weeks into the new month, it has not yet been able to pay the other half.
The head of the public employees union, Bassam Zakarneh, has charged that Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been able to pay for projects and trips abroad for his ministers, but that when it comes to salaries, Fayyad says he does not have the money.
Zakarneh even said that if Fayyad is unable to pay salaries, how can he claim that the PA will be ready for statehood in September when it plans to ask the UN for recognition.
All the PA can do now is appeal for help from the donors, mainly the Arab countries whose aid has dropped. Some analysts, however, believe that the donors are using the aid to pressure the PA to drop plans to ask for UN recognition.
(Los Angeles Times)
See also Economic Crisis Looms as Palestinians near UN Push in September - Omar H. Rahman (Al Arabiya-Dubai)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- House Committee Saves Israeli Aid in Foreign Aid Cut - Ron Dagoni
The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday cut the Obama administration's $51 billion 2012 budget request for the State Department and foreign aid by $6.4 billion, but kept unchanged the $3 billion in military aid for Israel. Bipartisan support for Israel keeps U.S. military aid intact a year after Congress ratified an agreement that formalizes U.S. aid for Israel through 2018.
According to a statement by committee chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.): "The bill reaffirms support for Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital by requiring that Jerusalem be identified as Israel's capital on relevant U.S. Government documents, and requires the Executive Branch to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem by the start of 2014. It also expresses Congress' opposition to the Arab League Boycott of Israel."
"The bill states that it shall be U.S. policy to uphold the reassurances provided by the President of the United States in an April 2004 letter to the Prime Minister of Israel, which reassured U.S. support for secure, defensible borders for Israel and for Israel's qualitative military edge, and stated that it is unrealistic to expect negotiated final borders to parallel the pre-1967 lines." (Globes)
- Mullen and Netanyahu Worried by Large Flow of Arms from Syria to Lebanon - Mati Tuchfeld and Lilach Shoval
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced concern during a meeting in Jerusalem Tuesday over the flow of arms from Syria to Hizbullah taking place against the backdrop of the violent Syrian unrest. Mullen's visit centers on discussions about the threat of Iran and its influence on the Arab world. Other topics discussed were the new regime shaping up in Egypt and arms smuggling from Sinai to Gaza. (Israel Hayom)
- Jerusalem Yawns at Lebanon Threat to Take Maritime Line Dispute to UN - Herb Keinon
Israel responded with a yawn on Wednesday to Lebanese media reports that the country might complain to the UN Security Council about the maritime border approved by the Israeli cabinet on July 10. Israel made the move now because under international maritime law, if one country makes a claim and another country does not counter it, the silence of the second country is viewed as acquiescence. One Israeli official said Lebanon violated international maritime law by unilaterally demarcating the border last year.
According to the official, borders cannot be marked unilaterally, but rather must be agreed upon by both countries, or be sent to an arbitrator that both sides agree upon. Since Lebanon refused to do either, the official said, it can't just set the maritime border on its own. Once it did, Israel had no choice but to do the same in order to protect its interests.
- Palestine Is Addicted to Aid - Tim Marshall
An African UN worker in the West Bank recently remarked to a mutual friend, "'When people see me coming they see a walking ATM machine."
There are well over 200 NGOs in the West Bank and Gaza, and 30% of its GDP comes from international aid. Palestinians are among the most foreign aid funded people in the world and the place is awash with money. Even if the Palestinians declare full statehood in September they would not be truly independent because Palestine is addicted to aid and as long as you are addicted you are in thrall to your supplier.
The billions that pour in mean the Palestinian Authority does not need to try very hard to deliver services. It also stifles the private sector, inflates wages and causes an internal "brain drain" as the NGOs recruit the best of the local talent. This is not to argue that NGOs are not required, many are, but they distort the situation, and fundamentally the Palestinians cannot have properly functioning businesses, nor be fully independent, until their leaders are partially weaned off their addiction to other peoples' money.
- Eliminating Israel - Benny Morris
A poll run by American pollster Stanley Greenberg, conducted jointly by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, found that 61% of Palestinians rejected the American-Israeli formulation for a settlement of the conflict based on two states for two peoples, one for the Arabs and one for the Jews. Only 34% supported a "two-states-for-two-peoples" solution. 66% adopted the PLO-PA gradualist approach of a "two-stage solution" - approving a first stage in which there would be two states before moving onto "stage two" with the establishment of one Palestinian Arab-majority state over all of Palestine.
Perhaps the international quartet should take this poll, and what it tells us, into account when considering Netanyahu's fears regarding the Palestinian leadership's real aims in pressing on with its intention to unilaterally declare independence and obtain international endorsement of Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza along the 1967 lines.
Abbas' people, if this poll is to be believed, clearly regard this diplomatic initiative only as part of "stage one," and nothing more. (National Interest)
- 336 Homes Supposedly Threaten World Peace - Rick Richman
With negotiations with the Palestinians nowhere in sight, Israel has announced tenders for 336 settlement units - 294 in Beitar Illit (a large community just outside Jerusalem) and 42 in Karnei Shomron (a small one). If the "peace process" ever produces a peace agreement, Beitar Illit and Karnei Shomron will remain part of Israel.
The PA responded by accusing Israel of harming "not only Israeli-Arab peace, but also the entire world peace," showing why it "prompts us to go to the UN." Actually, the PA has rejected three offers of a state in the past decade, and announced in 2009 it was unwilling to negotiate further. It now issues ludicrous statements about areas it knows are not going to be part of a Palestinian state.
Once Again, the Jewish Question - Jonathan Kay (National Post-Canada)
- In Ramallah, construction seems to be taking place on every block - proper office buildings, stores and apartments. Arab Jerusalemites and British Arabs come here for parties and fancy weddings. At a local museum, a major Picasso exhibition has opened up.
- The Western-trained police strut about with polish and confidence. Scarred by the example of Gaza, where Fatah activists were rounded up and killed by Hamas, Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces have made common cause with Israel (whose military presence here is non-existent - at least during the day) in eradicating Hamas from public life.
- The PA's media director, Ghassan Khatib, tells me: "The experience of 2000-2003 [the Second Intifada] was very costly for us. Violence is to Israel's advantage. It is not wise for us to be dragged into Israel's area of strength."
- Mahmoud Labadi, a charismatic, old-guard PA apparatchik, launched himself into the realm of fantasy by claiming that the entire Jewish historical claim to Jerusalem's core is bogus, because no Jewish temple ever existed in the area. Palestinian leaders have fallen back on this insulting conspiracy theory for years. Remaining firmly in the sphere of conspiracy theory, Labadi then rehashed the debunked claim that Israeli archeologists are plotting to destroy the Dome of the Rock, which sits on the Temple Mount.
- These conspiracy theories are being used to advance an agenda - which is to strip Israel of its historical identity as the homeland for the Jewish people. An Israel disconnected from Jewish history wouldn't have any basis to reject the "right of return" claimed by the descendants of 1948-era Palestinian refugees.
The writer is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.
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