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In Cyprus, Turkey Raises Stakes Over Oil Drilling - Marc Champion (Wall Street Journal)
Turkey said it was ready to send warships to escort research vessels that would explore for oil and gas off the coast of Northern Cyprus, as Texas-based Noble Engineering began exploratory drilling farther south between Cyprus and Israel on Sunday, despite Turkish warnings to halt the project, the Cyprus News Agency reported.
Turkish leaders say the Republic of Cyprus shouldn't drill for oil and gas on the continental shelf that it delineated with Israel in an agreement last year.
"The main reason Turkey is reacting so strongly is that it wants to be the gateway for any new gas to come to EU markets," said a senior industry executive.
A major Greek Cypriot find would undermine that goal, he said, as Cyprus would then export gas to the EU via Greece.
See also Erdogan Awakens the Sleeping Russian Bear - Dore Gold (Israel Hayom)
The Russian Foreign Ministry has publicly backed the right of Cyprus to develop its Mediterranean gas.
Last week the Russian daily Pravda published an article entitled "Turkey Wants to Revive the Ottoman Empire," predicting greater Turkish activity in the Caucuses and in Crimea, "which cannot but worry Russia."
Erdogan has succeeded in awakening a sleeping Russian bear by reviving Moscow's historical concerns with Turkish ambitions to restore its old areas of influence.
The Turkish Islamist IHH was responsible for the violence on the 2010 Gaza flotilla. The Russians probably noticed that one of the IHH operatives on the Mavi Marmara, Erdinc Tekir, participated in a 1996 terrorist attack on a Russian ferry in the Black Sea, whose purpose was to obtain the release of Chechen terrorists from a Russian prison.
Indeed the founders of the IHH served as volunteers in the Mujahideen Brigade that fought the Russians' Serbian allies during the Bosnian War.
The writer, a former Israeli UN ambassador, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Palestinian UN Statehood Bid Is Broadway Theater - John Bolton (Fox News)
This is neither the first time, nor undoubtedly the last, that Palestinian leaders have succumbed to the delusion that Middle Eastern reality can be changed by irrelevant UN activity. This is more Broadway theater than a serious effort to achieve Middle East peace.
The only practical result of the General Assembly declaring "Palestine" a state will be to move its chair a few feet from its present location to be next to the Vatican, the only other "observer state." This is nothing to get excited about.
While so many typically insist that Israel should offer concessions to the PA to forestall any UN vote, in fact, General Assembly resolutions are not binding on anyone.
The writer, a former U.S. ambassador to the UN, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
IDF Trains in Underground Tunnels - Florit Shoihat (Israel Defense Forces)
In the Gaza area there are hundreds of tunnels used mostly for terrorist purposes. In June 2006, terrorists used a tunnel near Kerem Shalom, killing two IDF soldiers and kidnapping Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
Recently, IDF units have begun training in underground combat.
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- Plan Emerges to Avoid UN Showdown on Palestinian Statehood - Chris McGreal
International efforts to forestall a showdown in the UN Security Council over recognition of a Palestinian state are solidifying around a plan for the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to submit a request but for a vote on the issue to be put on hold while a new round of peace talks is launched. The deal is being pushed by the Middle East "Quartet" of the UN, EU, U.S. and Russia, which is attempting to persuade Abbas to back away from a diplomatic confrontation with Washington, which says it will veto the Palestinian bid. In parallel, the Quartet would issue the framework for renewed negotiations that would include a timeline for the birth of a Palestinian state.
The Palestinians are also under pressure because it is far from certain they will win the necessary nine votes in the Security Council to win recognition. The U.S. has been using its influence to get some Council members to abstain in the hope the Palestinians will lose the vote and that the U.S. veto will not be required.
See also Report: UN Vote on Palestinian Statehood Might Be Delayed for Weeks - Shlomo Shamir
The upcoming UN Security Council and General Assembly votes on a Palestinian state are expected to be postponed to an unspecified date, sources in New York said Tuesday. The sources claim that Abbas is interested in postponing the Security Council vote to give him time for diplomatic bargaining with the U.S.
See also Abbas Is Having the Time of His Life - Chemi Shalev
Statesmen and diplomats from around the globe are falling over themselves in a last-ditch effort to dissuade Mahmoud Abbas from pursuing his bid for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood and he is enjoying every minute. Members of the Middle East Quartet are frantically exchanging fresh formulas that might find favor with Abbas. The rather uncharismatic Abbas has suddenly been cast as a Caesar who gazes at the arena below him before turning his thumbs down, as the Arabs and Palestinians ecstatically cheer him on.
- Obama to Palestinians: Seek Goals at Negotiating Table, Not the UN - Lesley Clark
President Barack Obama will make a case Wednesday at the UN General Assembly for reviving the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Obama will also meet with both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas.
"Peace is going to have to be made between the parties," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Tuesday, offering a preview of Obama's remarks. "It's going to have to be the Israelis and the Palestinians sitting down, dealing with the very hard issues that have divided them. There's no shortcut to peace." (McClatchy)
- Washington Presses Ankara to Ease Tensions with Israel - Matt Spetalnick and Laura MacInnis
President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan sought common ground on counterterrorism and Middle East policy on Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, as Washington pressed Ankara to ease tensions with close U.S. ally Israel. Obama and Erdogan agreed on the need to increase pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu's Strategy at the UN - Herb Keinon
In his speech to the UN, Netanyahu's strategy is to explain to the world that the Middle East is now different from the one that existed before Hosni Mubarak was brought down in Egypt.
He will explain the need for caution, for not rushing head-long into anything. He will argue that the need to see where the dust settles, who will gain control, and what new alliances emerge is truer now that the nasty side of the revolution is starting to emerge.
If Fatah can lose control of Gaza to Hamas in a matter of weeks, if the Egyptians can now talk about re-visiting a 30-year peace treaty, then previous assumptions need to be re-thought. His strategy for the short term at the UN is to explain why recognition of a Palestinian state would only serve to destabilize an already reeling region - and why Israel should not be pressed to take any giant steps at a time when the Middle East's tectonic plates are shifting.
- Congress Mulls Action Against PA in Light of UN Bid - Natasha Mozgovaya
Congress is considering taking punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority or closing the PLO mission in Washington should it go ahead with plans to seek full membership at the UN Security Council. Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Bush administration official, said, "The entire Palestinian Authority is not to blame for what the PLO-Fatah crew is planning in New York. I think the collapse of the PA would not be in our interest or, for that matter, Israel's or Jordan's."
Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of Treasury, said, "Congress should challenge the corrupt system created by Mahmoud Abbas. This includes, one, stricter oversight of the presidential waiver process that releases Palestinian funds each year, two, oversight of the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) including a full audit, three, conducting an inquiry into the wealth of Mahmoud Abbas and his sons, Yaser and Tareq, to determine whether U.S. funds have contributed to their holdings, [and] four, demanding an immediate resolution to the matter of the electric power plant in Gaza - U.S. taxpayers should not be indirectly financing Hamas." (Ha'aretz)
- A Reckless Palestinian Bid for Unilateral Statehood at the UN - Robin Shepherd
The Palestinian leadership will ask the UN Security Council for recognition of a Palestinian state on the basis of 1967 borders which are entirely indefensible for the State of Israel. This is a blatant attempt to avoid direct negotiations with Israel so as to obviate the need for the kind of concessions that meaningful negotiations always entail.
The symbolic recognition is a gift to Bashar al-Assad in Syria who has already tried to use the Palestinian cause as a diversion from the appalling repression he is visiting on his own people. It is a gift to Hizbullah who, having rearmed following the 2006 Lebanon conflict, can be activated by their masters in Tehran at any moment. It is a gift to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt ahead of the country's elections. In short, it is a gift to anyone looking for a rallying cry against Israel.
Britain supports a Palestinian state. So does the U.S. So does the EU. In fact, so does Israel.
But there is one party that most emphatically does not support a Palestinian state, if that means long-term acceptance of the State of Israel: the Palestinians themselves. Opinion polls have consistently shown that the Palestinians only support the idea of a Palestinian state sitting side-by-side with Israel as a stepping stone to a future one-state solution in which they rule over the Jews.
In other words, the Israelis have always been in the near impossible situation of being asked to negotiate with people who plainly don't want any long-term peace involving the acceptance of Israel as a legitimate state with a secure future, whatever their leaders say about recognizing Israel to gullible Western media. The writer is Director of International Affairs at the Henry Jackson Society.
- Israel, Egypt, Turkey - Shifting Sands - Zvi Mazel
Yes, peace was achieved between Israel and Egypt, then Jordan, but this was a peace between governments, not peoples. Incitement against the Jewish state never stopped, finding fertile soil in the minds of youngsters taught from the cradle that Jews are the enemies of Islam and will be destroyed. Egypt is looking at a lengthy period of instability before new institutions are elected and steps are taken to revive a failing economy, a process which will take at least two years. Radical Islam could claim a significant victory and be part of the new government.
Egypt imports 50% of its wheat, drawing on its already depleted reserve to subsidize basic foodstuffs. Tourism, its main source of revenue, is facing its worse crisis ever. Unfortunately the rise of radical Islam and years of media incitement unchecked by the government have turned many Egyptians against Israel. Their neighbor makes a convenient scapegoat for the failure of the temporary rulers to achieve any of the goals of the revolution.
The crises with Egypt and Turkey are not of Israel's making.
The writer is a former ambassador to Egypt.
The Palestinian Statehood Gambit - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
- The Kurds - one of the oldest ethnic groups in the world - don't have a state. Neither do the Tamils of Sri Lanka, the Uighurs and Tibetans of China, the Basques of Spain, the Chechens of Russia or the Flemish of Belgium.
Yet when the UN holds its annual meeting in New York this week, the session will be dominated by the efforts of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to declare statehood.
- A vote at the UN won't create a Palestinian state and will likely retard the creation of one, perhaps for years. What Palestinians seek out of a UN vote isn't an affirmation of their right to a state, but rather another tool in their perpetual campaign to harass, delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel.
- "We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years," Abbas said. That's another way of saying that the "occupation," in Abbas' view, began with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, and not with Israel's takeover of the West Bank and Gaza after a war that threatened Israel's existence in 1967.
- Perhaps it's time to rethink the fundamental desirability of a Palestinian state so long as the Palestinians remain more interested in tearing down their neighbor than in building a decent political culture of their own.
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