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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
November 16, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Tunisia: Islamist Prime Minister Nominee Calls for Restored Caliphate, Liberation of Jerusalem - Mischa Benoit-Lavelle (TunisiaLive)
    The Tunisian Islamist party Ennahda invited Houda Naim, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council based in Gaza, to speak at a rally in Sousse on Sunday, the first time a member of Hamas has addressed the Tunisian public.
    Naim stated her hope that the "liberation" of Tunisia would lead to the liberation of Palestine.
    At the event, Ennahda's general secretary Hammadi Jebali, recently proposed by the party to be the new prime minister of Tunisia, declared that the occasion was "a divine moment in a new state, and in, hopefully, a 6th caliphate," referring to the historical system of Islamic monarchies.
    Jebali also echoed Naim's words, stating, "The liberation of Tunisia will, God willing, bring about the liberation of Jerusalem."

    See also Tunisia's Ghannouchi: "I Quite Like" Hamas' Kassam Rockets (Ofcom-UK)
    Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Islamic Tunisian political party Ennahda, told Al Hiwar Arabic TV on Feb. 22, 2009:
    "I quite like the Kassam rockets. During the war [referring to the Israeli incursion into Gaza] they did not kill anyone on the other side, they scared them only. It is a civilized weapon as it serves the purpose, it creates balance in power."




PLO to Drop Land Swap Formula from Talks - Nasouh Nazzal (Gulf News-Dubai)
    The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) announced on Monday that it will very soon drop the "land swap" formula.
    Tayseer Khalid, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said: "We have never signed an agreement with Israel which states any shape of land swap formula....The land swap formula is a heresay in the track of negotiations....It is time for this mistake to get corrected."
    "The PLO totally rejects all the conciliatory formulas offered by the Mideast Quartet," he added.




An Exuberant Awakening for Libya's Berbers - Alice Fordham (Washington Post)
    In Kabaw, Libya, thousands of people danced in the streets waving the red, black and green flag of Libya's revolutionaries. But they also flaunted another flag, with green, blue and yellow stripes and a curious red symbol.
    "Azoul!" they shouted, greeting each other before bursting into song in a language that is not Arabic. Kabaw is home to 10,000 Amazigh people, also known as Berbers, who speak their own language, have their own customs and were intensely repressed by Gaddafi.
    More than 15 million Amazigh live in North Africa. Many consider themselves descendants of the original inhabitants of North Africa, a people who settled thousands of years ago and practiced Judaism and Christianity before Islam.
    Under Gaddafi, it was forbidden to speak, write or sing in Tamazight, on pain of arrest or beating by security forces.



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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israelis Doubt World Will Stop Iran's Nuclear Quest - Dan Williams
    The latest report by UN inspectors has hardened suspicions that Iran is seeking nuclear arms capability, but Israeli experts have little confidence that international action will deny the Islamic Republic the means to make a bomb. "Can this (IAEA) report create a new basis for increasing the pressure on Iran? There is no good reason for being optimistic," said Ephraim Kam, deputy director of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies and a former Israeli military intelligence colonel.
        W. Pal Sidhu of New York University's Center on International Cooperation said: "I think we have reached a limit in terms of sanctions," adding that Iran had "a complete (nuclear) fuel cycle that is unlikely to be stopped only with outside technical sanctions." Sidhu said Iran's distant, dispersed and defended facilities "may well be a bridge too far" for Israel's armed forces and that the U.S. would be loath to launch its own preemptive strikes without Security Council approval.
        Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: "So far the international community has imposed sanctions on Iran only on 30% of areas where it could be possible....Even if the Western world would impose sanctions without China and Russia, it would be enough to strangle Iran."  (Reuters)
  • Syrian Army Defectors Attack Intelligence Complex
    Members of the Free Syrian Army fired shoulder-mounted rockets and machineguns at a large Air Force intelligence complex on the edge of Damascus early Wednesday. An Arab official said insurgent attacks on loyalist forces rose sharply in the last ten days. (Reuters)
  • Iran Says Defense Computer Systems Infected with "Supervirus" - Richard Spencer
    Iran says its defense computer systems have been infected with a ''supervirus'' called Duqu, similar to the virus that severely damaged Tehran's nuclear program last year. (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Abbas Seeks Unity Government with Hamas, Agrees to Dump PM Fayyad - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Fatah and Hamas have been holding secret talks in Cairo on the formation of a Palestinian unity government and new presidential and parliamentary elections. An announcement by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad earlier this week that he would be prepared to step down - to pave the way for the implementation of a Fatah-Hamas unity deal - now seems to have paved the way for rapprochement between the two parties. Fatah officials hinted Tuesday that they would no longer insist on the nomination of Fayyad. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Fatah, Hamas Agree on May Election
    Dismissing Fayyad would be a huge gamble. The U.S.-educated economist is widely respected in the West and is key to ensuring the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid. Hamas claims Fayyad is a pawn of the West. (AP-Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Reconciliation Remains Uncertain - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Targets Long-Range Missile Squad in Gaza - Jonathan Lis
    Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that Israel air force planes targeted a squad experimenting with long-range missiles in Gaza on Monday. "The strike injured and inhibited the advancement of Islamic Jihad's rocket production," Gantz said.
        He warned that "recent rounds of escalated violence and the injury of both lives and the daily routine of citizens of Israel's south are leading to a reality in which the IDF will have to take significant, aggressive action in Gaza."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF Chief of Staff Surveys Current Security Challenges (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Palestinian Rocket Lands near Kindergarten - Shmulik Hadad
    Two Kassam rockets fired from Gaza on Tuesday exploded in southern Israel. One of the rockets hit a warehouse near a kindergarten. Dudi, a father whose son attends the fortified kindergarten, estimated there were only seven seconds between the alarm and the explosion. "The rocket hit the outer wall," he recounted. A few teenagers were playing outside when the rocket landed. They ran for cover in a nearby fortified area and were spared injury. (Ynet News)
        See also Strong French Censure of Airstrike on Gaza Irks Jerusalem - Herb Keinon
    Jerusalem on Tuesday rebuffed sharp French criticism of an Israeli air force raid on a Hamas police compound near Gaza City that lightly injured a local employee of the French consulate living a few hundred meters from the target. The windows of the home of Majdi Shakoura, a Gaza resident who holds a French passport, were shattered by the blast, and he and another family member were lightly hurt by flying shards.
        "We are obviously sorry for the light injuries incurred by the family, but the target of the attack, quite far away from their home, was a Hamas cell responsible for shooting rockets on Israeli civilians who suffer much more serious injuries - and even death - when Hamas rockets are fired, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. "Thousands of Israelis suffer injuries that are similar or much worse during rocket attacks from Gaza, and they don't draw the same sympathetic remarks from the French," an Israeli official said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Building on the Opportunity of the IAEA Report on Iran - Olli Heinonen
    Despite denials, Iran is working on the building blocks for making nuclear weapons. The details regarding the nuclear program's suspected military dimension are in addition to already known areas of concern: the continued production of enriched uranium, the shift to higher-enriched uranium that would shorten the time to reach weapons-grade level, the concealment of nuclear activities and related construction, and Tehran's history of problematic cooperation with the IAEA.
        Concealment and denial have been hallmarks of Iran's nuclear activities. This track record only exacerbates broader concerns about the possible existence of undeclared nuclear facilities and related materials in Iran. The strength of any resolution passed at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Vienna on Nov. 17-18 will be an indication of the level of international agreement on how to deal with Iran. The writer formerly served as deputy director-general and head of the Department of Safeguards at the IAEA. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Tehran's Reaction to IAEA Report: Apprehension and Escalated Threats - A. Savyon and Y. Mansharof
    The IAEA's November 2011 report that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon increased apprehensions and concern in Tehran regarding a possible Western or Israeli strike against it. Iran also reacted by escalating its threats against the U.S. and Israel. Encouraged by Russia and China, which expressed their opposition to further sanctions, Tehran is threatening to carry out a forceful military strike against the U.S. and its allies if attacked, and even to destroy Israel.
        Though Iranian spokesmen stress their skepticism about the likelihood of a Western attack on Iran, Iran is nevertheless threatening to destroy Israel - both via its allies Hizbullah, Hamas, and Syria, and with a direct military strike against Israel's nuclear facilities and population centers - while stressing what it calls Israel's geographical, moral, and technological inferiority to Iran. (MEMRI)
Observations:

Palestinians Must Come to the Table - Shai Bazak (Boston Herald)

  • Israel has declared that it supports the establishment of two states for two peoples - which includes a Palestinian state - and believes that a Palestinian state should be achieved as the result of a comprehensive and genuine peace process.
  • Negotiations remain the only means to reach agreement. However the Palestinian Authority (PA) is attempting to bypass talks and create a state without making peace with Israel. It has refused to participate in serious negotiations for nearly three years.
  • There is an unbridgeable gap between a state with peace and a state without peace. Will the Palestinians have a country from which they launch further attacks on Israel or will they build a country which will live in peaceful co-existence with their neighbor?
  • Instead of negotiating, the Palestinians are assailing Israel with diplomatic warfare. They have orchestrated a recognition bid at the UN in direct violation of the Oslo Accords the PA signed with Israel which specifically forbid unilateral action to change the status of the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Meanwhile, the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip is engaged in real warfare - firing missile after missile at the civilians of southern Israel.
  • The international community should clarify to the PA that it cannot bypass peace talks and persuade it finally to return to the negotiating table.

    The writer is the consul general of Israel to New England.

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