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UNESCO to Vote Monday on Palestinian Membership Request, Amid Threat of U.S. Funding Halt (AP-Washington Post)
UNESCO is expected to vote on Monday on a request to admit Palestine as a full member of the UN cultural agency.
U.S. lawmakers have threatened to withhold some $80 million in funding to UNESCO if it approves Palestinian membership.
Saudi Prince Raises Bounty for Kidnapped Israeli Soldier to $1 Million (Reuters)
Prince Khaled bin Talal, a brother of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told Daleel television that he will contribute $900,000 for the capture of an Israeli soldier.
"Dr. Awad al-Qarni said he was offering $100,000 to only take a prisoner....I will...pay the remaining $900,000 to take an Israeli soldier prisoner so that other prisoners can be freed," he said.
Abbas: Arabs Erred in Rejecting 1947 Partition Plan - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
The Arabs made a mistake in 1947 when they rejected the UN partition plan, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with Israel Channel 2 TV on Friday. "It was our mistake. It was an Arab mistake as a whole."
The question, said one Israeli official, is what mistake did Abbas reference?
"I would like to hear Abbas say that the mistake was that Palestinians should have recognized [in 1947] that two states for two peoples is the right solution, and that the Jewish people have a right to a state of their own. But he didn't say that."
Libya Confirms Presence of Chemical Weapons (AP-Washington Post)
Libya's interim prime minister Mahmoud Jibril on Sunday confirmed the presence of chemical weapons in Libya and said Libya has no interest in keeping such weapons.
"There are international organizations taking care of this issue," he said.
IDF Develops New Protective Items for Families Living Under Rocket Fire (Israel Defense Forces)
The IDF Home Front Command has developed several items to help civilians living under the threat of rocket fire.
These include a "protected bed" that can be transformed into a "protected shelter" during emergencies in places where there is no available safe room.
Similarly, a special closet that can normally be used for storage can be used as a safe room.
During testing, both products were able to defend their contents fully during a monitored explosion.
Fatah Official Denies Plans to Dismantle PA - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
The Palestinian Authority is not planning to dismantle itself, senior Fatah official Mahmoud al-Aloul told Palestinian news agency Ma'an on Friday in response to media reports.
See also UN Envoy: Israel Must Take Abbas Threats to Dismantle PA Seriously - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
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- U.S. Lawmakers: Treat Palestinians Freed by Israel as Terrorists - Mackenzie Weinger
Three dozen members of Congress urged FBI Director Robert Mueller and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday to treat the Palestinians freed by Israel in the swap for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as terrorists.
In a letter, the lawmakers noted that each of the released prisoners was convicted for acts of terrorism and "should be treated as such." All of the Palestinian prisoners should be on every terrorist watch list and database to keep them out of the U.S., the bipartisan group of House members added. (Politico)
- Syria May Attack Israel If West Intervenes - Liz Sly
The Syrian government is convinced that the West will not dare intervene militarily, as it did in Libya, despite pleas from the protest movement for it to do so.
"Syria has a strong army, and Syria is not alone," said Bassem Abu Abdullah, a professor of international affairs at Damascus University and a member of the dominant Baath Party. "Attacking Syria means regional war, because we will attack Israel directly. Hizbullah will participate. Iran will participate. This is not in the interests of Europe and America."
Protests erupt on a regular basis, even in Damascus. On a government-escorted visit to the Midan neighborhood, a soldier who had defected in Homs was being buried, and his funeral procession was accompanied by a noisy anti-government demonstration.
The crowd of several hundred young men chanted: "The people want the execution of the president!"
The rage, energy and determination were palpable, suggesting that these young men, who have been taking to the streets on a regular basis since March, will not soon tire of their efforts to topple the regime. (Washington Post)
See also Syrian Forces Pound Homs
Syrian forces pounded the city of Homs Saturday with jets and tanks. At least 21 people were killed in clashes countrywide, including 11 in Homs. At least 100 others were wounded and 500 arrested in several provinces.
Fierce fighting has been ongoing between armed military defectors and loyalist forces,
the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. During clashes in Bab Amer Saturday, 20 loyalist troops were killed and 53 injured. Armed army defectors ambushed a bus carrying Syrian security forces in Idlib province. (CNN)
See also Syrian Troops Mine Lebanon Border to Block Arms Smuggling
Syrian troops were seen planting mines along a region bordering northern Lebanon on Thursday in a bid to stem weapons smuggling, a local Lebanese official said.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Gaza Rocket Fire Kills Israeli Man in Ashkelon on Saturday
On Saturday, Palestinians in Gaza fired at least 27 rockets at Israel. Moshe Ami, 56, a father of four, was killed in Ashkelon. Two rockets landed outside Beersheba. Nine Islamic Jihad terrorists have been killed in airstrikes since Saturday. Schools were closed in towns within 40 km of Gaza, including Beersheba, Ashkelon and Kiryat Malachi.
See also Israeli Towns Hit By Palestinian Rocket Attacks - Shmulik Hadad
In Ashdod, cars were destroyed, apartment windows were shattered and holes in an apartment building's exterior bore testimony to the Grad rocket that hit on Saturday. One rocket landed directly between two apartment buildings. Haim Elimelech, 50, said he was in his car when a rocket hit mere meters from him.
"The neighbor's car, which was located between me and the explosion, got the worst of the damage," he said from his hospital bed. "Maybe if it wasn't there, we wouldn't be sitting here talking right now." (Ynet News)
See also Israel Attacks Gaza Rocket Squad on Monday - Elior Levy
The IDF announced Monday that the Air Force attacked a rocket squad in Gaza after at least six rockets were fired at Israel. Two members of the Al-Ahrar movement's military wing were killed in the strike. Al-Ahrar consists of ex-Fatah men and is partly sponsored by Hamas.
- The Islamic Jihad Threat - Ron Ben-Yishai
The current round of escalation from Gaza was initiated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad has more long-range rockets than Hamas, thousands of activists, and some 10,000 supporters and collaborators. The group intends to utilize this power in order to challenge Hamas and force it to continue the armed struggle against Israel.
See also Israel Kills Palestinian Rocket Commander in Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi
Israel's air force on Saturday killed Islamic Jihad commander Ahmed al-Sheikh Khalil and four of the group's munitions experts in Gaza following an earlier Palestinian cross-border rocket launch at Israel. The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that its aircraft had "targeted a terrorist squad...that was preparing to launch long-range rockets." (Reuters)
See also Islamic Jihad Becoming a Threat to Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh
With the help of Iran and Syria, Islamic Jihad has become the second-largest armed group in Gaza after Hamas. Today, it poses a serious challenge to the Hamas government. In the past two days Hamas chose to sit on the fence while Islamic Jihad militiamen fired rockets at Israel, acting on instructions from Tehran and Damascus.
Hamas can't afford to be seen as playing the role of "border guard" for Israel.
Dozens of disgruntled Hamas members are reported to have defected to Islamic Jihad, as have former Fatah security officers, some of whom were trained by the U.S. and EU. (Jerusalem Post)
Video: Gaza Terrorist Squad Preparing to Launch Rocket at Israel (Israel Defense Forces)
See also Video: Islamic Jihad's Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher (YouTube)
- Defense Isn't Enough - Uzi Dayan
Israel is facing a terrorist rocket war. There is always some "splinter group" operating or "sporadic shooting" despite cease-fire agreements. Initially, the terrorist rockets threatened a few thousand. Now they can reach hundreds of thousands; next time, when their range can reach central Israel including Tel Aviv, they will threaten millions of Israelis.
The Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system is praiseworthy, but it cannot protect against mortars, short-range rockets, anti-tank missiles or even long-range rockets. Nor can a battery stationed in Ashkelon respond to fire on Rishon Lezion. Defense alone cannot win. There is no justification for the fact that parents in Ashkelon have to live in fear for their children's lives. Hamas is not part of the solution - it is the problem. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan is former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff and former Chairman of Israel's National Security Council.
- Looks Like that Iranian Plot Was Real After All - Daniel Byman
Incredulity has been the most common response to reports that Iran plotted with Mexican drug traffickers to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Adel al-Jubeir, at a Washington, D.C. restaurant. But there are plenty of reasons to think that the Islamic Republic's senior leadership was responsible for the plot.
The suspected Iranian agent, Mansour Arbabsiar, met several times in Iran with Ali Gholam Shakuri, a senior member of Iran's paramilitary Quds Force, a special unit of the country's Revolutionary Guards that has carried out many terrorist attacks. Shakuri in turn informed the head of the Quds Force, who reports directly to Iran's Supreme Leader. There are also intercepted phone calls between Arbabsiar and Shakuri, which is hard evidence to dismiss. And then there is the money - $100,000 - transferred for the plot.
The jury is still out on who ordered the plot, at least in the unclassified world, but there is good reason to suspect Iran's senior leaders, who have been tied to assassination attempts in the past. Giving Iran a pass on this outrageous plot just because the operation went awry would be a mistake. And responding with a passive shrug or weak-kneed condemnations may look to Iran like a green light for a second try.
The writer is a professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a senior fellow with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
- Tunisia: The Blossoming of a Pluralistic Society? - Jacques Neriah
Even though the Islamists in Tunisia won a plurality of the seats (over 40%), leftist and liberal parties also represent almost 40% of the seats. The Islamist Al Nahda party has no other choice but to compromise and form a coalition government. Indeed, the crux of Tunisia's political culture is syncretism - the combining of different beliefs. Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Israel Asks UN to Condemn Gaza Rocket Attacks (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel's ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor on Thursday asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Security Council, and the international community to censure rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza.
"The constant rain of rockets on our cities dramatically alters daily life....No people should have to live under such a specter of terror."
- "Israel holds the Hamas terrorist organization fully responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza, where it remains in de facto control. The rockets that continue to fly out of the area illustrate a basic truth: the Palestinian Authority has absolutely zero authority in the Gaza Strip. While President Abbas continues his unilateral march for state recognition at the United Nations, the Palestinians are far from meeting the basic criteria for statehood, particularly the test of effective control."
- "With the roar of rockets echoing from the Gaza Strip, silence from the Palestinian Authority is unacceptable. Israel is still waiting to hear President Abbas clearly condemn Hamas for the terror that continues to flow from Gaza."
- "The terrorist rockets in Gaza are traveling further - and their warheads are getting larger. This is a direct result of the continuous smuggling of advanced weapons from Iran and others into the Gaza Strip. Preventing this illegal activity is an integral part of Security Council Resolution 1860, but it receives hardly any attention from the international community."
- "The rocket fire emanating from Gaza represents a flagrant violation of international law....Israel expects the Security Council, the Secretary-General, and the international community to condemn all of these attacks immediately and unequivocally."
- "Israel cannot and will not rely on good luck to protect its citizens. Israel has exercised and will continue to exercise its right to self-defense, as appropriate, and will take all necessary measures to protect its citizens."
See also Map: One Million Israelis Live in Range of Gaza Rocket Fire (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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