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Hizbullah Discusses Its Operational Plan for War with Israel:
Missile Fire on Tel Aviv and Conquest of the Galilee - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
According to a source close to Hizbullah, the group's leader, Hasan Nasrallah, has told his field commanders that in the next military conflict with Israel, Hizbullah will hit Tel Aviv with missiles at the outset of the war, while also dispatching forces to conquer the Galilee.
The operational plan was formulated in tandem with senior Iranian strategic experts and will include a force of 5,000 fighters who have recently trained in Iran, tasked with taking over northern Israeli towns including Nahariya, Shlomi, and Carmiel.
It was said that engineering units of the Iranian army have mined areas in the eastern Bekaa Valley that were seen as possible landing sites for Israeli special forces, and that Hizbullah had equipped itself with "smart" Iranian anti-tank missiles that can disrupt the defensive systems of Israel's Merkava tanks.
Nasrallah's recent escalation of public statements stems from heightened fear in Hizbullah that an Israeli and/or American attack on Iran is drawing nearer. As a strategic arm of Iran, Hizbullah sees itself as Iran's first line of defense against Israel.
Mahmoud Abbas' Empty Threats - Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson Institute-New York)
In the past five years, Abbas has threatened to resign at least 25 times. Of course he never carried out his threat, which was obviously intended to extract concessions and money from the West.
His resignation could actually be a positive step for the Palestinians: it would pave the way for the emergence of new leaders.
Yasser Arafat used to warn American and European officials that if they did not give him enough money and weapons, the Iranian-backed Hamas would take over the Palestinian Authority.
In the end, Hamas won in the January 2006 parliamentary election - largely because the Americans and Europeans gave money to Arafat without holding him accountable.
Abbas has no intention of stepping down or dissolving the PA. He and the old guard in the PLO will stay in power until the last day of their lives.
See also Israeli Expert: Palestinian Threats of Disbanding PA Unrealistic - Aviel Magnezi (Ynet News)
Palestinian society and politics expert Prof. Hillel Frisch of Bar-Ilan University said of threats to disband the Palestinian Authority:
"I don't think it is a realistic step, but rather a manipulation attempt to push Israel into dismantling the outposts and securing an American pledge to stop construction in the West Bank."
"There is no precedent in the history of humankind of a political entity that gave up on $3 billion [in foreign aid] and had the lives of hundreds of thousands of families depend on it."
Israel: A Strategic Asset for the United States - Robert D. Blackwill and Walter B. Slocombe (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Daily Alert Blog
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- UNESCO Euphoria: Palestinians Step Up UN Efforts - Mohammed Daraghmeh and Josef Federman
Emboldened by their admission to the UN's cultural agency, the Palestinians plan to seek membership in other international bodies as part of their campaign for statehood. Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian envoy to the UN in Geneva, said the Palestinians are now studying whether they can join 16 other UN agencies. Officials believe the Palestinians could join the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the World Bank and the International Criminal Court.
In Jerusalem, Yigal Palmor, spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said the Palestinian strategy could cause grave damage to the workings of the UN by trying to "hijack" any agencies they join to press an anti-Israel agenda.
He warned the Palestinian effort would be a "dismal omen" for direct negotiations because the ability to accomplish their goals through UN votes would eliminate the incentive for Palestinians to engage in peace talks.
- Israel Test-Fires Missile that Can Hit Iran
Israeli defense officials say the military has successfully test-fired an advanced missile in an exercise that had been planned long ago. Foreign news reports said the test involved firing a long-range Jericho missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and striking Iran.
- Condoleezza Rice Says Prospects for Mideast Peace Have Worsened
Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace are far worse today than when she left office, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday. "When you look at where we are now, we're a long, long way back from where we were," Rice said.
She said she was disappointed by the new administration's handling of the delicate issue of new Israeli housing construction in the West Bank. "I do think focusing on settlements in that particular way was a mistake," Rice said. "The parties then were able to have a reason not to sit down." "When they're not talking, they're sliding backward."
The U.S. long has opposed new settlements but largely looked the other way at some homebuilding, such as expansion of selected neighborhoods. Rice's new memoir of her time in Washington, No Higher Honor, published Tuesday, confirms then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's claim that he had laid out a comprehensive proposal for peace during secret meetings with Rice and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Rice said Abbas ultimately rejected the proposal.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel to Accelerate Construction in Jerusalem Area after UNESCO Vote - Tovah Lazaroff and Khaled Abu Toameh
In a series of retaliatory moves against the Palestinian Authority, Israel on Tuesday decided to accelerate Jewish construction in the Jerusalem area and temporarily suspend the transfer of tax funds to the PA. The Inner Cabinet's measures were a direct response to the PA's continued pursuit of unilateral statehood at the UN instead of a negotiated agreement with Israel.
"You cannot demand from the Israeli public continued restraint when the Palestinian leadership continues to slam doors in their face," said an Israeli official.
"They refuse to condemn the rocket attacks that killed an Israeli citizen [on Saturday].
They praised the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and have refused to conduct peace negotiations while going for unilateral moves at the United Nations."
The building approvals include 1,650 units in eastern Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods, 277 in Efrat and 50 in Ma'aleh Adumim. The Israeli official noted that all the building would occur in areas that would remain part of Israel in any final-status agreement with the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel: UNESCO Vote Harms Chances for Peace Negotiations
In response to the UNESCO vote accepting Palestine as a member state on Monday, the Israel Foreign Ministry stated:
"This is a unilateral Palestinian maneuver which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement.
This decision will not turn the Palestinian Authority into an actual state, yet places unnecessary burdens on the route to renewing negotiations. Israel believes that the correct and only way to make progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians is through direct negotiations without preconditions."
"The Palestinian move at UNESCO, as with similar such steps with other UN bodies, is tantamount to a rejection of the international community's efforts to advance the peace process. Israel thanks those countries which displayed a sense of responsibility and opposed this decision."
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- UNESCO Votes to Admit Palestine: Who Objected?
The final UNESCO vote tally was 107 votes in favor, 14 against and 52 abstentions.
No: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sweden, United States of America, Vanuatu.
Abstentions: Albania, Andorra, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cook Islands, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Georgia, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liberia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Switzerland, Thailand, Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zambia.
- China's Iranian Gambit - Michael Singh and Jacqueline Newmyer Deal
For three decades, U.S. diplomats have failed to secure real Chinese cooperation in their efforts to prevent Iran from going nuclear. According to the Washington Post, a senior U.S. official handed over to his Chinese counterparts in October 2010 a "significant list" of Chinese firms thought to be aiding Iranian proliferation in violation of UN sanctions. Increasing Chinese trade with Iran - projected to reach $40 billion in 2011, up from $30 billion last year - eases the pressure on Tehran and provides the Iranian regime with revenue, expertise, and other resources.
China provided critical support to the development of Iran's nuclear program during the 1980s and 1990s and emerged in the 1980s as one of Iran's principal arms suppliers, with transfers including cruise missile and ballistic-missile capabilities. Earlier this year, China moved to block the release of a UN report that described suspected Chinese involvement in the transfer to Iran of aluminum powder used as a solid propellant for nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Last week, China joined Russia in pressing the IAEA not to release damning information on Iranian military nuclear research. And last year, media sources covered the sale by Chinese firms of high-quality carbon fibers that would help Iran build better centrifuges.
China's strategic thinking is laid out clearly in Chinese-language publications aimed at Beijing's political and military elites. For example, defense analyst Maj. Gen. Zhang Shiping, who is often described in the Chinese press as a "researcher" within China's Academy of Military Sciences, argued in China's Sea Power that Iran was a potentially desirable location for a Chinese military base in the Middle East.
- Assad's Nuclear Ambitions - Elliott Abrams
It turns out that in addition to buying a plutonium production reactor from North Korea, Syria was also working on a uranium reactor procured from the Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan.
Thus Syria was trying two separate routes to get a bomb.
This revelation is further evidence of why the U.S. and all of Syria's neighbors will benefit by the demise of the Assad regime.
Far from being a quiet little dictatorship that did not bother its neighbors, Syria under Bashar al-Assad intervened repeatedly and murderously in Lebanon, did all it could to help jihadis kill Americans in Iraq, and had under way a dual-track nuclear program that would have been tremendously destabilizing to the region had it not been stopped. The discovery of additional Assad regime nuclear work should put an end to the foolish arguments that that regime was a source of stability in the region.
(Council on Foreign Relations)
See also A Syrian Centrifuge Plant? A New Proliferation Challenge - Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
The Problem Is Palestinian Rejectionism: Why the PA Must Recognize a Jewish State - Yosef Kuperwasser and Shalom Lipner (Foreign Affairs)
- Nearly two decades of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have failed miserably. The key reason for this failure is the Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The basic paradigm of the Oslo accords, signed in 1993, held that both the Israelis and the Palestinians were, at long last, prepared to recognize the legitimacy of each other's national rights and aspirations. Yet over the course of the last 18 years, the rhetoric and actions of the Palestinian leadership have proved that paradigm wrong. The Palestinians have not in fact recognized the legitimacy of the national rights of the Jewish people.
- The true reason for the intransigence among Palestinian officials has nothing to do with settlement building; rather, it is their continued rejection of the Jewish character of Israel. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.S. Congress this past May, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state." He continued: "The Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it."
- The Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state stands at the root of the struggle and behind every so-called core issue, from determining borders to resolving the dispute over Palestinian refugees. Genuine reconciliation can be achieved, then, only once the Palestinians come to terms with Israel's existence as a Jewish state.
- The Islamic groups are hardly alone in believing that Israel should be entirely destroyed. As recently as 2009, Fatah, the supposedly moderate party that constitutes the largest faction of the PLO, reaffirmed its official charter, which mandates the continuation of armed struggle until the Palestinians have achieved the "complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military, and cultural existence." Institutions such as the PLO and the Palestinian Authority continue to indoctrinate the Palestinian public against any acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state.
- A peace based on mutual recognition is the only long-term antidote to the deep-seated cultural animosity between the two sides. Any agreement that does not address the underlying ideological motivations of the conflict would allow for an eruption of hostilities at the first sign of trouble.
- True progress between the Israelis and the Palestinians will require a daring paradigm shift. Rather than a focus on the issues of settlement activity and territory, success in the negotiations will first require at least a tentative change in the Palestinian position on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Yosef Kuperwasser is Director General of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs and former head of the Analysis and Production Division of the Israel Defense Forces' Directorate of Military Intelligence. Shalom Lipner has served in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office since 1990.
See also PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: "I Will Never Recognize a Jewish State" (MEMRI)
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