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August 29, 2011

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Abbas: We Won't Recognize Israel as Jewish State - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
  The Palestinian Authority will not be recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday, adopting a belligerent tone ahead of his planned statehood bid in September. The Palestinian leader also criticized demands made by the International Quartet of his Authority, urging the international community to back off. "Don't order us to recognize a Jewish state," Abbas said. "We won't accept it."
    See also "UN Recognition Won't Stop PA's Demand for Right of Return" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
The Palestinians will continue to demand the right of return for millions of refugees to their original homes inside Israel even after the UN recognizes a Palestinian state along the June 4, 1967, lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday.
  Acknowledging that the situation on the ground would not change for the Palestinians when and if a Palestinian state is declared, the PA president explained: “First, there will be a state under occupation. The Israelis these days deal with us on the basis that we are not a state and that the Palestinian lands are disputed territories. But when the recognition of our state on the 1967 borders happens, we will become a state under occupation, and then we would be able to go to the UN [with demands]. We will remain under occupation, but our legal status will change.”
  Abbas said he was strongly opposed to an armed intifada against Israel.

Gilad Shalit Marks 25th Birthday in Captivity (BBC)
  Gilad Shalit was 19 when he was abducted in June 2006 by three armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas.

Nasrallah Puts Hizbullah in the Dock - Ahmed Othman (Asharq Alawsat)
  Hizbullah is preparing itself to face the greatest challenge in its history, when the Special Tribunal for Lebanon [STL] reveals the truth behind the assassination of [former Lebanese Prime Minister] Rafik Hariri live on air all across the world. Following this, the image that Hizbullah has created for itself – as a representative of the resistance which defends Lebanon against Israeli aggression – will collapse.
  Der Spiegel ran an article claiming that the STL was in possession of information indicating that Iranian authorities had participated in the preparations for the Hariri assassination. According to the article, the four Hizbullah suspects received special training for the execution of this operation in the Khomeini camp near the Iranian city of Qom, a year prior to the assassination. The German magazine also claimed that three of the suspects had fled Lebanon and are now living in Iran.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Eight Injured in Tel Aviv Car and Stabbing Attack
    A West Bank Palestinian was accused of stealing a taxi and ramming into a police roadblock outside a Tel Aviv nightclub early Monday, before going on a stabbing spree and injuring eight people, hospital officials said. Police said that the random roadblock, set up in south Tel Aviv near the Oman 17 nightclub, had prevented a larger number of casualties. Some 1,000 high school students were attending an end of summer party at the club. (AFP/M&C)
  • Syrian Unrest Raises Fears about Chemical Arsenal - Joby Warrick
    In 2008, a secret State Department cable warned of a growing chemical weapons threat from a Middle Eastern country whose autocratic leader had a long history of stirring up trouble in the region. The Middle Eastern state with the dangerous chemicals was not Libya. It was Syria.
      Syria possesses some of the deadliest chemicals ever to be weaponized, dispersed in thousands of artillery shells and warheads that are easy to transport. Syria’s preferred poison is not mustard gas but sarin, the nerve agent that killed 13 people during a terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995.
      The CIA has concluded that Syria possesses a large stockpile of sarin-based warheads and was working on developing VX, a deadlier nerve agent that resists breaking down in the environment. By early in the last decade, some weapons experts ranked Syria’s chemical stockpile as probably the largest in the world, consisting of tens of tons of highly lethal chemical agents and hundreds of Scud missiles as well as lesser rockets, artillery rockets and bomblets for delivering the poisons. It is not inconceivable that weapons could vanish amid the chaos of an uprising that destroys Syria’s vaunted security services, which safeguard the munitions. (Washington Post)
  • Syria Moves to Halt Spread of Unrest into Central Damascus - Ellen Knickmeyer
    Security forces in the Syrian capital increased checkpoints, troop deployments and helicopter patrols Saturday in a bid to keep an overnight surge of antigovernment protests in the suburbs from spreading to the heart of Damascus, a crucial stronghold for President Bashar Assad.
      The beefed-up deployments came as Iran, Syria's closest ally, for the first time publicly pressed Assad's government to accede to the "legitimate" demands of the Syrian public. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Syria Forces Storm Town, Fight Defectors - Khaled Yacoub Oweis
    Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fought a night-time battle in Damascus with army defectors who had refused to shoot at a pro-democracy protest.
      In Damascus, dozens of soldiers defected and fled into Al Ghouta, an area of farmland, after pro-Assad forces fired at a large crowd of demonstrators near the suburb of Harasta to prevent them from marching on the center, residents said. It was the first reported defection around the capital, where Assad’s core forces are based. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Barak: Israel Won’t Let Egypt Deploy More Troops in Sinai at the Present - Anshel Pfeffer
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday that Israel has no intention at this time of approving additional Egyptian troops in the eastern Sinai Peninsula.
      Barak's statement comes despite press reports Friday that the defense minister said it was in Israel's interest to allow Egypt to bring in larger forces to overcome the ongoing anarchy along the border with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Report: Egypt Stations 1,500 Troops in Sinai
    Egypt has stationed 1,500 additional soldiers in Sinai after coordinating the move with Israel, the UK-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported. According to the report, the two countries are negotiating the placement of even more troops in the peninsula. (Ynet News)
  • Grad Rocket Fired from Gaza Falls near Be'er Sheva - Yanir Yagna
    A Grad rocket fell in an open field in Bnei Shimon Regional near Be’er Sheva Sunday morning. No one was hurt and no damage was reported. Militants have launched four rockets at Israel since the Islamic Jihad agreed to an Egyptian mediate cease-fire with Israel early Friday. (Ha'aretz/AP)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • To Protect Israel at U.N., Money Talks - Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
    Even as extremists from Gaza fire rockets and mortars at civilians in southern Israel and cause death and destruction, we must not forget about another danger facing Israel: a unilateral campaign by Palestinian leaders to secure recognition from individual foreign governments and from the United Nations for a self-declared Palestinian “state.” This anti-Israel, anti-peace scheme must be stopped.
      U.N. actions would severely undermine opportunities for a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. They would provide implicit recognition and legitimacy to a self-declared “state” and reward and reinforce the unilateral, rejectionist policies of the Palestinian leadership. Restarting bilateral negotiations would become even more difficult.
      Fortunately, we are not helpless in the face of this dangerous challenge. There is a historical precedent for how to stop it. In 1989, Yasser Arafat’s PLO also pushed for membership for a “Palestinian state” in UN entities. The PLO’s strategy looked unstoppable until the George H.W. Bush administration made clear that the U.S. would cut off funding to any UN entity that upgraded the status of the Palestinian observer mission in any way. The UN was forced to choose between isolating Israel and receiving U.S. contributions, and they chose the latter. The PLO’s unilateral campaign was stopped in its tracks.
      This example demonstrates a simple but needed lesson: At the UN, money talks, and smart withholding works. It is time to use all our leverage to stop this unilateral Palestinian scheme — for the sake of our ally Israel and all free democracies, for the sake of peace and security, and for the sake of achieving a UN that upholds its founding principles.
      U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), is Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (Miami Herald)
  • The Alawis Will Determine Bashar's Fate - Dov Zackheim
    Gaddafi's imminent fall has no doubt encouraged the Syrian opposition to continue its nationwide protests. It is unlikely to sway Assad to make any real concessions to the protesters. He may not succeed, however, not because of the growing strength of the opposition, but rather because his Alawi supporters may turn on him.
      The Alawis know that they can expect no mercy from the majority Sunni population if the Assad regime falls. They are doubly hated, because of their heretical religion, and their abuse of power. They also know time is running out for them. Their only hope is to remove Bashar and his entire leadership team and replace them with a seemingly more civilized Alawi face. Whatever happens, Iran is likely to be the big loser, and with it Hizbullah as well. That would certainly be the case if the Sunnis took power in Damascus. (Foreign Policy)
  • Gridlock on the Road to September - Adam Shay
    The efforts of Palestinian unilateralism, as demonstrated by the attempt to achieve statehood through the UN rather than by negotiation with Israel, as well as the Arab Spring, have left the Israeli public in an atmosphere of uncertainty, which is infertile ground for any peace process, let alone one that includes territorial concessions. The writer is a senior program coordinator and a researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Will Egypt Be Too Busy to Hate? - James Kirchick (Ha'aretz)

  • "Give us weapons and we'll kill all the Jews." So chanted several hundred people outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo last Friday.
  • The intense and academic debate in the West about where legitimate criticism of Israel ends and anti-Semitism begins doesn't resonate in Egypt, or anywhere in the Arab world.
  • It would be a mistake to think that the views expressed at last week's protest are separate from the Egyptian mainstream. Anti-Semitism is the common political language in Egypt. It is the one thing on which all the major political factions can agree - from secular "liberals" to Islamists.
  • "Anti-Semitism remains the glue holding Egypt's disparate political forces together," according to the young Egyptian writers Amr Bargisi and Samuel Tadros, whose prescient article two years ago, "Why are Egypt's 'Liberals' Anti-Semitic?," caused a stir back home.
  • After talking to a cross section of people in Egypt, I have come to the conclusion that it is naive to think that Egyptians or, as polls indicate, the Arab world writ large will ever accept the presence of a Jewish state in their midst.
  • Egypt has massive domestic problems on its hands, and one would think that a wrecked economy, rising Islamism, and increasing lawlessness as the result of a gutted police force would convince most Egyptians to turn inward rather than rattle for confrontation with the Zionist entity. But massive social and political dysfunctions are nothing new in the Arab world. Indeed, they are endemic. And far from convincing elites of the need to focus on self-improvement, the backwardness of Arab societies has made the appeal of anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism - blame-shifting in general - all the more appealing.

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